Old School Americana & Nostalgia

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Enjoy a Festive Nostalgic Throwback with Christmas Department Store Music

Enjoy a Festive Nostalgic Throwback with Christmas Department Store Music

With holiday playlists composed of pop hits dominating our airwaves, many find Christmas department store music nostalgic. Christmas shopping has changed with abandoned malls and disappearing department stores. But you can still relive the nostalgia by listening to the seasonal background music that once accompanied shoppers on their quest for the perfect gift.

However, there’s a way to recapture that holiday Muzak magic. On YouTube, you can find videos with hours of Yuletide music. These tunes were either specifically created to be played in stores by outlets like Muzak (which is still around, now branded as Mood Media), Seeburg, and Customusic, or they have that nostalgic sound that could have been heard by Christmas shoppers between the 1960s and ’80s. There are even videos for Kmart-inspired playlists.

The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. However, some retailers have started playing holiday music even before Halloween, signaling an early onset of the festive spirit.

Christmas Department Store Music Influences Shopping Behavior

SiriusXM, valued at $23 billion, is a leading audio provider in North America, according to Bloomberg. They offer a wide range of playlists for businesses, including holiday-themed ones like “Jingle Jamz” and “Country Christmas.” With the acquisition of Pandora Media and Cloud Cover Media, SiriusXM has expanded its expertise in creating curated music playlists for national brands.

National brands often outsource their playlists due to the complexities of music licensing for public spaces. Behind the scenes, teams of experts at companies like SiriusXM curate the perfect mood for customers. While Christmas songs are popular, retailers like Crate & Barrel and Old Navy also include Hanukkah songs like “The Festival of Lights” and “8 Days of Hanukkah”.

Holiday music in the US has become increasingly popular since the 2010s, largely because of streaming services. These festive tunes consistently rank on the Billboard Hot 100, starting weeks before Christmas and even continuing after. In fact, following Christmas 2020, holiday songs made up over a third of the chart. Surprisingly, most of these songs were not recent releases but rather classics from years and even decades ago. Billboard’s rankings now give more weight to paid subscription streams, contributing to the resurgence of holiday music.

A 1993 study found that background music has a profound impact on shopping behavior. Customers at a wine store spent more money, especially on higher-priced bottles, when classical music was played instead of popular hits. The study stressed the need to align music with the store’s ambiance and target audience for maximum effect.