Research Therapies — 05 December 2017

Employees working in stores that repeatedly play Christmas music could be at risk of their mental health deteriorating, experts have warned. 

Songs of the season can encourage customers to make impulse purchases by prompting feelings of nostalgia and warmth — which retailers like. 

But staff, who have to listen to the songs over and over again throughout their shifts, have to ‘tune out’, says clinical psychologist Linda Blair.

‘Music goes right to our emotions immediately and it bypasses rationality,’ she told Sky News. 

Repetitively rough day at the office? Psychologist Linda Blair store workers are having to 'tune out' from Christmas music at work.

Repetitively rough day at the office? Psychologist Linda Blair store workers are having to ‘tune out’ from Christmas music at work.

‘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.’

Her concern for workers – who have no choice but to endure hours of Jingle Bells and All I want For Christmas Is You – is one that is also shared by the union USDAW.

They said: ‘We ask employers to consider the staff who have to listen to Christmas music all day, because playing the same songs repeatedly can become very irritating and distracting.’

It comes as two retailers this holiday season adopt different strategies after when it comes to its Christmas playlists. 

While Marks & Spencer has chosen to switch off the music, Asda will is introducing a daily Christmas-music-free hour from December 15 and will allow staff to become their own DJs for the day. 

The supermarket giant told The Sunday Times: ‘We all love the warm and fuzzy feeling that the festive season brings, but for many Brits the novelty starts to wear off in December.

However, other chains have not headed Ms Blair’s warning, and John Lewis will this year play Christmas music for the first time. 

The retailer said: ‘Sometimes, in the run-up to Christmas, branches invite choirs or small groups of musicians to play and sing to create more atmosphere. The music in Christmas Shop this year is a new addition.’

And Sainsbury’s won’t be making any changes to the festive soundtrack, which usually plays music only in its cafes buy plays Christmas tunes throughout the whole of its stores. 

Nigel Rodgers, founder of Pipedown, a group which campaigns for more silence in public places, said it was estimated that some store workers will have had to listen to Jingle Bells up to 300 times before December 25. 

This piece by Stewart Paterson was first seen on the ‘Daily Mail’ 13 November 2017.


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