As we approach the end of the year, various festivals start cropping up. Obviously Christmas is the dominant event, but there are a number of events such as Halloween, Bonfire Night etc., to get on with en-route to the end of year holidays.

Retailers, understanding that many of the items purchased to celebrate these holidays are singular one-off sales, will seek to maximise their chances of gaining the transaction from a competitor by means of displaying such items ever earlier in the year.

While it provokes howls of anguish from various sections of society, the commercial reasoning for such early display of Christmas wares is supported by the sales figures. After all, over the past few years, it has probably been safer to put money into buying Christmas presents early than to leave it with banks that were liable to fall over at any time.

Equally, those who find the presence of Christmas fare in the middle of October  to be rather annoying, are free to walk past the still fairly small displays and on to more appropriately seasonal fare – such as late summer or autumnal goods.

Likewise, many food and drink establishments as we approach Christmas will start to seek to benefit commercially from the growing festival atmosphere by offering suitably themed food and drink – from the turkey and cranberry sandwich to various sickly concoctions that can be loosely described as a cup of coffee, even if a spoon is sometimes needed to “drink” them.

As with the retailer of consumer goods, a person is free to disdain from such purchases and pass by the counter unaffected by such inducements.

Considering the duration a person may spend in such an establishment though, much effort is expended in creating a desirable atmosphere, from the decoration used, to the ambiance created by the use of mood music. A relaxing atmosphere is conducive to higher sales, which is why it is often so tightly controlled by the head office.

Controlling the ambiance is also of such importance as it is generally impossible to avoid. Even the most studious of book readers will notice the environment around them at times. The impossibility of avoiding it is another reason why many venues devote some significant effort in its planning.

Therefore, considering how important it is in assisting in generating sales, and equally considering that, as far as I could see, you are not yet selling Christmas themed food and drinks – why was the Costa Coffee branch in Canary Wharf playing Christmas music today?

There seems to be no commercial benefit to your sales, as you are not actually selling anything that is Christmas themed – yet.

Frankly, we are barely into autumn, and it is somewhat disconcerting to have songs extolling the virtues of sleigh bells and frolicking the snow on a day where I have been out for strolls on a balmy afternoon.

Can I request that Christmas and general winter themed music is deferred until at least we are into winter, and certainly somewhat closer to Christmas than the middle of October.

Thank you

Yes, I have sent this to Costa Coffee, and will post any reply they send back.

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7 Comments

  1. Robert Zimmerman

    Why did you only send it to Costa Coffee? Do you need a list of other transgressors? ;-)

  2. Chris

    I did not see a suggestion of what music a coffee shop should be playing on October 16th 2010 to please the concerning coffee drinker. Is it Brian Eno Music for Airports you fancy.

  3. IanVisits

    I did not see a suggestion of what music a coffee shop should be playing on October 16th 2010 to please the concerning coffee drinker.

    The same generic easy listening music they were playing on the other nine months of the year would be perfectly suitable for October, and probably the first couple of weeks of November as well.

  4. OregonMJW

    Hahaha! Although I’m certain the lengthy disertation on the efficacy of displaying or not displaying Christmas goods prior to Halloween was, to say the least, tongue in cheek, I was expecting a traditional British slam-dunk, bugger-off finish. But you were polite and reasonable throughout! Look forward to their reply . . . in July!

  5. No, no, noooo, not the generic easy listening!!! (And not the Jingle Bells, either. How about Hildegarde von Bingen’s Christmas hits? I’m sure she’s out of copyright.)

  6. Richard Poynton

    Well said! I completely agree with your letter, and it is very well placed tonally.

    However, they may pick up on: “Can I request that Christmas and general winter themed music is deferred until at least we are into winter, and certainly somewhat closer to Christmas than the middle of October.”

    Winter doesn’t begin until winter solstice, which is Dec 21st.

    Look forward to the response they give you.

    PS – I know someone with an Advent calendar already.

  7. I’ve already bought half my Christmas presents. (I start early, meaning no last minute rushing around.)

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