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Attention retailers: Christmas music actually makes some shoppers angry

Attention retailers: Christmas music actually makes some shoppers angry
[Photo: Gabriel Matula/Unsplash]

Every holiday season, when I inevitably find myself among shoppers who cheerfully hum along to Christmas music at retail establishments, I feel as if I’m the sole sour face in a crowd of sanguine elves. “Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,”—am I the only one who hates these tunes? It can certainly feel that way when you’re just trying to make it through a crowded Walgreens in December with your eardrums intact.

Which is why I was gratified to see the results of a new survey from Cloud Cover Music, a streaming music service for businesses, which found that holiday music is not the all-purpose consumer opiate many retailers assume it to be. Among the 1,016 respondents, 39% of millennials and 31% of gen-Xers said hearing religious Christmas songs would discourage them from shopping at a particular establishment, while 37% of baby boomers said the same of comedic Christmas songs.

Even more noteworthy is that a sizable percentage of respondents said some holiday music actually makes them angry. Broken down by age, 24% of millennials called out religious Christmas music as anger-inducing, while 21% of gen-Xers and 31% of baby boomers said comedic tunes stoked their ire.

Cloud Cover Music doesn’t get into the specifics of why shoppers are angered by Christmas music, but as someone who feels their pain, I suspect it has something to do with the age-old catch-22 about holiday-driven expectations and how the pressure to feel good and jolly actually ends up making us feel worse. Or maybe it’s just impossible not to hear the soulless drumbeat of consumerism behind that umpteenth iteration of “dashing through the snow.”

Either way, I feel very seen by this survey, although retailers need not worry too much. Angry shoppers aside, the survey found that a majority of consumers in all age groups (millennials: 52%, gen-X: 60%, baby boomers: 76%) enjoy traditional Christmas classics, and are encouraged to shop at a place again after hearing them.

Read the full survey results here.

[Cloud Cover Music]
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