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AutoZone and Costco are your only sanctuaries from Christmas music this winter

Reuters/Johannes Eisele
‘Tis the season.
By Amy X. Wang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Get in a car, turn off the radio, and drive yourself—in complete silence—to the nearest AutoZone, Costco, GameStop, or WinCo Foods. Only there will you be safe.

Thanks to the holiday season’s ever-earlier kickoff (for just how bad it’s gotten, see Quartz’s Christmas creep calculator), Noël-themed music is already blaring in many public spaces. By the start of December, it’ll be nearly inescapable. A recent study from Nielsen, which tracks US entertainment consumption, found that nearly 500 radio stations across the country turn “all-Christmas” during the holiday season. That means renditions of “Deck the Halls,” “Holy Night,” and “Let It Snow”—with, admittedly, a few refreshing modern pop twists in there—playing on a steady, relentless loop.

While holiday radio is a bad idea if you want to avoid going insane, shopping in a brick-and-mortar store is the most dangerous choice of all. The Tampa Bay Times called 100 top retailers to ask them when they begin playing holiday music; the several dozen that responded are listed below. Many popular stores such as Apple, Ikea, and Starbucks said yes, they will play holiday music—but declined to give a start date (so you should bet on July). Only AutoZone, Costco, GameStop, and WinCo Foods said they do not play music at all.

Oct. 22
Best Buy
Nov. 1
Kmart, Lane Bryant, Maurice’s, Michael’s, Sears
Nov. 5
Ultra Beauty
Nov. 9
Belk, H&M
Nov. 11
Office Depot, Office Max
Nov. 13
Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart
Nov. 16
Nov. 18
AT&T stores, Macy’s
Nov. 23
J.C. Penney, Giant Eagle
Nov. 24
Albertson’s, Foot Locker, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Publix, Sprouts, Target, Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma
Late November
Dec. 1
Stater Bros.
Varies by franchises’ or managers’ discretion
Sherwin Williams, True Value, Ace Hardware, Kroger, 7-Eleven, Subway, Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), Hy-Vee, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Dunkin Donuts, Wegman’s.

And if you think you’ll be safe after the gifts are unwrapped and the tinsel taken down, think again. The horrors continue well after Christmas.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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