Christmas music: jolly or jarring?

November 15, 2017

In retail stores and malls across America, and on the city streets, Christmas 2017 decorations already are up. What’s more, the songs of the season are ringing in our ears.

Indeed, the Tampa Bay Times in Florida reports that local radio station 98.7 FM flipped over to 24/7 Christmas music on November 6; and they are by no means the first. According to industry news site Insite Radio,the first U.S. station to flip to all Christmas songs, all the time, this season was New Jersey’s Easy 93.1, which has been jingle bell rocking since October 20.

For many, these traditional melodies bring comfort and joy; for others—not so much. Surveys show that Christmas music actually can be bad for your health.

In fact, Sky News recently reported that psychologists are saying that the Christmas songs played on a loop by retailers may encourage sales, but for workers behind the counter, they can be mentally draining.

Clinical psychologist Linda Blair recently told Sky News, “”People working in the shops at Christmas have to [tune out] Christmas music, because if they don’t, it really does stop you from being able to focus on anything else. You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”

What are the stores that already are booming with Christmas spirit? The Tampa Bay Times did a survey and found that this year’s “Christmas Creep” started in October and will be nearly complete by Thanksgiving week:

  • October 22: Best Buy;
  • November 1: Sears/Kmart, Michael’s, and Lane Bryant;
  • November 5: Ulta;
  • November 9: H&M;
  • November 11: Office Depot/Office Max;
  • November 13: Walmart;
  • November 16: Verizon Wireless;
  • November 18: Staples:
  • November 23: JC Penney; and
  • Black Friday (November 24): Publix, Target, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Lowe’s, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Foot Locker, and Dunkin Donuts.

The news organization says that Target—once reluctant to go “all in” on the holidays early or otherwise— has relented. Target has, for most of its history, not played any music at all in its thousands of stores, holiday or otherwise. That changed this year, the Times said, as 180 newly-remodeled stores introduced background music. They’ll flip to holiday tunes on Black Friday.

But there is still one outlier, the newspaper noted:” The southern California-based grocery store chain Stater Bros. is the only retailer we could find that waits all the way until December to start.”

Research contact: cspata@tampabay.com

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