June 1, 2018
For immediate release
Chapel Hill: Target, the Minneapolis-based retail giant, has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for introducing “background music” into its stores nationwide—a complete reversal of its long-stated policy of maintaining a quiet atmosphere for shoppers.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that “for decades, Target skipped the background music so common in other stores, believing the sound was a distraction. The Minnesota-based retail chain, though, has changed its tune. Hoping to revive flagging sales and keep shoppers in the aisles longer, Target is introducing music to stores as part of its current, massive store remodeling effort.”
According to Target spokesperson Kristy Welker, “It’s all about activating all the senses while guests are in the store. Guests enjoy it as part of the shopping experience.”
Well, maybe not all guests enjoy it. A survey of 68,077 people at London’s Gatwick Airport indicated that 43 percent disliked the piped-in music, 34 percent liked it, and the rest were indifferent. After conducting the survey, Gatwick Airport stopped playing the background music in the main areas. In Great Britain, the Sainsbury supermarket chain and the Waterstones booksellers chain also agreed to eliminate piped-in music.
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, commented that “it is truly unfortunate that Target has made the decision to pipe in music in their stores. This is a step in the wrong direction. Customers want to be able to shop in peace.”
Of course, background music is not the only source of noise at Target stores. The major irritation is piercingly loud walkie-talkies—the topic of the Noisy Dozen award in June 2016, which stated that “the clamorous, intense noise from the walkie-talkies causes headaches and ruins the shopping experience…In the last several years, powerfully loud walkie-talkies in the hands of virtually every employee has created a cacophony of noise.” The June 2016 Noisy Dozen press release also noted that no other department chain store “provides loud walkie-talkies to its employees. Why not use headsets—so that shoppers are not bombarded with deafeningly loud noise?”