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|
|Mid-November||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|
|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.