The Conversation has an article about sound and music in shopping centres: Contested spaces: you can’t stop the music – the sounds that divide shoppers. The acoustic dimensions of spaces are not often considered as a topic for universal design, but this article highlights some of the issues. Although written with ergonomists in mind, there is useful information for all designers of shopping centres and other spaces where music is used to create “atmosphere”. But does it enhance the retail experience or does it drive people away?
The research that underpins the article covers several aspects such as manipulation of shopper behaviour and invasion of personal (aural) space. An Adelaide shopping centre has introduced a “quiet hour” for people who cannot cope with too many sensory inputs. This might be the key to having music for people who like it, and those who don’t.
You can see a related article, Shopping – a holistic approach to the issues which focuses on how older people behave in supermarkets.