Noise costs retail millions

The impact of bad sound in retail

The problem of noise in indoor public spaces was the subject of a recent piece in The Times by Stefanie Marsh. The Sound Agency’s chairman, Julian Treasure, took Stefanie on a tour of some particularly bad examples in London.

The problem

Many restaurants and shops use a cookie cutter design. No absorbent material, hard floors, walls and fittings, boxed-shaped rooms… The result can be appalling acoustics that disrupt the customer experience.
Background music adds to the din. Unfortunately retailers often operate under the assumption that upbeat pop music is a one size fits all solution.

The impact

Most retail soundscapes are not differentiated. They are accidental results of a store’s design. This reduces the impact of the prepared visual branding.
Unhealthy sound environments will also cause stress reactions in staff and customers. Heart rate and blood pressure can rise, cortisol levels increase… These are not healthy environments. And with an ageing Western population, retailers need to consider sound clarity more than ever.
Retailers don’t know they are losing business because of noise. Every retailer knows that sales relate to dwell time. This is particularly true for complex, expensive or multiple-item purchases. With the pressures on high street sales, most retailers are adding to their woes with bad sound. They are shooting themselves in the foot – suppressing their sales with inappropriate sound.

This thoughtless practice is costing millions every day. The Sound Agency have shown that appropriate sound can increase sales by 3-10%.

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