Less than a month before the big day, Christmas music is everywhere . and, like most people, you probably feel it's been around too long already. Surveys in the US, Canada and the UK suggest that at least half of all Christmas shoppers believe November to be too early to start playing festive music, with one in three dreading the first blast of I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day. Why, then, do shops subject us to their yuletide playlists? In 1973, Philip Kotler at Northwestern University coined the term "retail atmospherics", the sounds, sights and scents in a shop, which - along with goods and quality of service - make up the shopping experience. Kotler claimed customers make purchasing decisions based not just on the product they're seeking, but on atmospherics as well. Music is particularly powerful because it appeals directly to our emotions, often causing us to bypass rationality when making purchasing decisions. Richard Michon at Ryerson University, Toronto, found that if ...

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