Are We The Only Ones Who Noticed Costco Doesn't Play Music?

If you're a regular Costco shopper, you may (or may not) have noticed that there's something missing from the experience. We're not talking about any shortage of products, nor are we at all critical of the range of items it offers — Costco can be the one-stop-shop that literally takes you from cradle to grave as it sells both cribs and caskets (as well as just about everything else you'll need en route from one to the other). No, we're talking about the lack of golden oldies, easy listening, top 40 hits, or any other aural candy. Apart from the soundtrack provided by your fellow shoppers, all you'll hear at Costco is the sounds of silence, but we don't mean the Simon and Garfunkel hit of the same name.

One Redditor started a thread in r/Costco about this topic a few years back, declaring that they switched from Sam's to Costco for this very reason. The Sam's they shopped at suddenly started playing music, but they preferred what they called a "peaceful shopping environment." Several Costco employees noted that the stores actually had a policy that no music was to be played other than in the electronics section where it might be necessary to demonstrate the properties of the sound systems on sale. One of the workers speculated that Costco's lack of music was actually meant to encapsulate the chain's "no frills" approach to retail.

Costco's not the only silent store

While none of the Costco employees on the Reddit thread seemed to know for sure why the stores eschew music, a behavioral and marketing psychologist named Elliott Jaffa has his own theory (via The Christian Science Monitor). He believes that the lack of a soundtrack makes Costco shoppers feel almost as if time is standing still, which, in turn, keeps them in the store longer so they spend more money. Another reason might be because no music means no fees to pay to the music provider, which is why discount grocery chain Aldi, too, favors the silent store approach.

One side benefit of no in-store music means that Costco (and Aldi, as well) becomes a quiet haven for Christmas-weary consumers when the holiday season rolls around. While shoppers at grocery stores and other retailers may be bombarded with seasonal music from early November up through New Year's Day, Costco members need fear no unwanted encounters of the holly jolly kind. Instead, they can be reasonably sure that they won't be serenaded by Mariah Carey's bellowing while they enjoy their food court feast in heavenly peace.