Background music

I go to stores to buy. Not to be overwhelmed with music. It is said that “One person’s music is another person’s agony”. Though a lover of my choice of music, going to Bunning’s is an example of agony for me. I go there to buy, not to be deafened and by someone else’s music choice. I would like to know who chooses the music genre and the volume to which it is amplified? Is for the benefit of staff and to which demographic does it aim at and do shoppers actually request music? Aldi has no music and clearly this does not deter or disappoint shoppers. So ubiquitous is gratuitous music becoming it would be an ideal topic for a CHOICE survey to ask shoppers. I’m fairly sure that those that share my view, though not necessarily the majority, will still be a significant percentage of shoppers.


Hi @Thomas, welcome to the community.

Haven’t ever noticed music at Bunnings. Occasionally hear it at supermarkets but wouldn’t call it a nuisance. The only times I have found music a little excessive is in some fast fashion stores where it is loud enough to impact on a conversation.

The genre will be that which the retailer has bought a licence to broadcast and is why it is fairly generic and often sounds like lift music. I suspect some stores (e.g. fashion) the staff play their own (unlicensed) music.

Volume would be up to the staff and what they chose.

I don’t. I enjoy a wide genre if music, both English language and many others (inc. Asian, South American, European, African). Having music in stores often hides/masks other background noises, especially tonal noises such as air conditioning, fridge compressors, motors, trolley wheel squeaks etc which can be very irritating to those who have sensitive hearing. I personally would prefer music at modest to low volume, which is common in most stores, than experiencing noise nuisance when I shop.

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One of the more adventurous (to be polite) is

that is played in every Coles around us. I could be an odd one out but generally enjoy most of it, full knowing the music is selected to ‘enhance the shopping experience’ (eg buy more) not entertain shoppers.


Some supermarkets have a “quiet hour” for shoppers who don’t want announcements and music, particularly those with Autism who find it distracting, in that they cannot filter it out and ignore it.

My local (tiny) supermarket plays the local community radio which has a small broadcast area (we are 4km from the station and can’t get it) which is worth listening to while shopping. They discuss all manner of things, play music, often local artists and keep people up to date on wandering cattle, lost dogs, clearing sales, traffic, etc. It could take me 20 mins to get bread & milk!

The other independent has no music, only the occasional call for someone to clean up a spill, or help with trolleys. There has been research about what music entices people to linger longer and spend more. It does work.


Which Bunnings do you go to that has music? Sad to say that I have to go to Bunnings almost weekly, and have not heard music, ever.

Apart from the shops designed for the under 30s where there is an assumption that the quality of the music improves with the volume (I think that the inverse is often true), I don’t tend to notice music in the stores. Maybe it’s there, but it doesn’t generally intrude on my consciousness until they play the ‘don’t let your kids play with the trolley’ message.

That message is a complete waste of time as the parents who let their kids play up in trolleys aren’t likely to change their behaviour as a consequence of the announcement. The parents who keep their kids under control don’t need the announcement. So it rankles.

When that announcement finishes, I go back to sweet obliviousness.


When the music in a shop was so loud it was bouncing off the walls; making it impossible to converse with sales assistant (to get assistance to buy something) I gave up and walked away. But I did want to purchase something so re-entered the store and found the volume knob for the music and TURNED IT DOWN and then went and found a sales assistant …


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In a different store the volume knob was not in open view, so I asked a sales assistant to turn the volume down - which they immediately did, saying as they did so that they hated the loud music (gave them a headache every shift they worked) but it was either store or managment policy to crank it up unless a customer complained.


Bunning’s piped music is in their garden centres and tool centre and elsewhere on a grid with pendant overhead speakers over selected ailses. It is true that music can’t be easily heard in speaker absent ailses. But it is well and truly made up for where speakers are present.

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Well done Champion. You too may like the aims of the Pipedown movement in UK and the statistics that they quote. But most of all the widespread negative effects that piped music have that they report from genuine research and public surveys carried out. I particularly like their mention of the phone app developed in New York (USA) that rates restaurants etc with colour coding according to their tranquillity: red is for noisiest cacophony, green for soul-restoring peace. An app like this is so needed in Oz!

For every one of us who dislikes piped background music, are there as many or more who enjoy the experience?

I equate the background entertainment in a brand store to the type of customer the store would like to encourage.

Is a simpler solution to wear noise cancelling headphones, personal choice of alternate entertainment optional?

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I reckon that the stats say it all. A new UK study shows that 80% of people have cut short their visit to a pub, café or restaurant because of noise, while 75% say they would eat out more often if places were quieter and for shopping that you are likely to spend far more time and money in a quieter environment, such as that at Lidl, Aldi and Waitrose and Marks & Spencer’s 300 stores where there is no piped music. Gatwick Airport is another example of this.

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Which study, and is it a blind test or biased sample?

If the stats are that reliable in the instance mentioned, is this topic necessary? Surely every business will have turned off the music and insisted in store on Japanese polite whispers, or eviction!

Noise is not necessarily background music. Quieter does not say there should be an absence of background music or entertainment. I take it to say we need to ban talking at the table. There are eating places we avoid because everyone else talking is the source of the noise.

Without a survey to push any point, what makes a great dining experience (bistros, restaurants etc) according to those in the business? A rounded experience including quality food, excellence of service, and great atmosphere. The last may or may not include music. The sounds of the desert as the sun sets or the birds awakening at a dawn breakfast party benefit from sounds other than the clatter of cutlery.

It’s the clatter of the cutlery and loud conversations at the next table that turn me off any dining experience. It’s surprising how many of us can eat and talk at the same time.

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I often wonder how store or management piped music policies are developed? Is it based on any research or is it ignorance because everyne else has music? Except for age demographic brand name stores where loud current pop music is generally the fashion, for elsewhere, I wonder who chooses the genre and volume of piped music played? How can it be got right for everyone? A survey by CHOICE is much needed on this topic

Still haven’t heard it…and having recently been to a Bunnings store, there isn’t any audio speakers emitting ‘piped’ music mounted from the ceilings. There are warehouse type lights, other lighting, sprinklers, what looks like emergency sound horns etc, but no piped music speakers, Have you been to another Bunnings other than the one that you frequent. It maybe that a couple of staff members at your particular Bunnings like music an play it using their own devices.

Restaurants, pubs, cafes are very different to a retail store as one usually expects to go to such venues to have conversations with others over a meal. But…not in all cases the elevated noise isn’t from the background music but from conversation happening within the venue and the poor acoustic properties of the room which results in reflection and reverberation of sound waves. In such case if one doesn’t like the loudness of the venue, one has a choice not to frequent there again.

There are a number of places to eat in the past where the noise (conversation and a band playing) that it was near impossible to hold a conversation. These aren’t the norm, but a rare event.

The issue for eating places with a lot of elevated (not loud) noises is that those with hearing difficulties or have hearing aids may find the din unbearable, while normal hearers have no issue.

Is background music a real issue in 99% of retailers and other venues where it is at low volumes (unless one say has a hearing aid) or a ‘first world’ problem.

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We went to our local Bunnings this morning and I specifically paid attention to listen for music as I have never noticed it there before.

I did actually hear it in a couple of areas but it was not very loud or noticeable.

It was is stark contrast to when I later went to Stockland Earlville and almost had my eardrums pierced by repetitive calls over the ghetto blaster PA system in Woollies.


The “fine dining” precinct of Chermside Shopping centre is a horrible place for Muzak.
The centre has outdoor speakers all over the precinct, and then the eating establishments which choose to inflict their different Muzak on customers have their separate sound systems and turn their volume up to try to drown out the centre’s Muzak. The result is a terrible cacophony. The winners are the eating establishments which have no speakers of their own and which have design & building materials which help to block out the noise from the centre’s multiple speakers.


One of the main reasons I shop mostly at ALDI. Woolies/Coles are a mixed bag - depends on the shop and who turned the knobs that day, IGA is worst near me (Qld) and I rarely go there for that reason.

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If that is true, then why don’t all the businesses turn off their BGM and ask Westfield to do the same?

Large shopping centres such as Chermside are supposed to offer an experience, and encourage customers to stay and spend. Good for business, as are sale/discount signs. Chermside is nearly always packed and a pain to find a park at most of the time. BGM and all.

It’s evident from this topic not all of us enjoy the Westfield experience, BGM included. Is it one persons headache is another’s symphony?

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Whilst at Bunnings, I noticed this highly creative modification of the Mazda logo on the back of a car parked near our vehicle.

The Devil might wear Prada but it appears that he drives a Mazda.