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Shopping noise adds to the stress of the Christmas season

Press Release   •   Dec 12, 2018 09:00 GMT

Shopping with the Sony WH-1000XM3

Our wellbeing is scientifically proven to drop by as much as 16% when we experience the festive cacophony

  • Scientific study found that Christmas shopping noise causes a 16% drop in our emotional wellbeing compared to a normal shopping day. Christmas shopping noise ranks higher than roadworks or hearing a baby cry
  • Behavioural Expert, Patrick Fagan, reveals the best methods to reduce this stress, such as listening to calming music and taking regular breaks
  • The study also concluded that wearing noise-cancelling headphones whilst Christmas shopping can increase levels of happiness by as much as 17% when enjoying music with no background disturbances

Research has proven that it actually isn’t the crowds, the queues, or the mayhem of finding the right present that is worse for us during Christmas shopping, but actually the noise that surrounds it.

Research conducted by Sony in partnership with Patrick Fagan, expert in behavioural science and Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths University, ahead of the festive season shows that shoppers report comparatively low levels of happiness and wellbeing when bombarded with the sounds of Christmas shopping during peak times.

With the stress of Christmas shopping noise affecting our emotional wellbeing, it is surprising that as a nation we don’t even recognise this in our top five Christmas stresses, with these identified as;

  • Busy streets and queues (43.6%)
  • Finding the perfect present for a loved one (25.6%)
  • Getting everything ready on time (23.1%)
  • Spending long periods of time with in-laws (11.9%)
  • Getting all the ingredients for your Christmas dinner (10.9%)

But when asked what sounds did they think might impact them the most, the top five were highlighted as;

  • Crowd noises (26%)
  • Children crying for the toys they want (23.6%)
  • Christmas songs playing on loop (21.9%)
  • Shop assistants trying to talk to you whilst you're browsing (21.4%)
  • Tannoy announcements or adverts for Christmas deals (14.1%)

Patrick Fagan, behavioural science expert at Goldsmiths University comments, “We frequently worry about our stress levels in the chaos of the lead-up to Christmas, however the research has proven that actually the noise of festive shopping is having a strong impact on our overall feelings of happiness and short-term wellbeing.

“As a nation, a staggering 88% don’t wear headphones when out shopping; however, wearing such tech appears to increase happiness and feelings of wellbeing and can provide a simple solution during this stressful time.”


Following the research, Patrick recommends a few simple measures that can be taken to negate the impact of Christmas sounds:

  1. Take regular breaks – It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the shopping rat-race, but almost a quarter (23%) of the nation recommend taking regular breaks in a shopping trip to reduce feelings of stress. One in five (18%) even bring along a magazine or book to truly switch off from their shopping. From a psychological point of view, the brain is like a muscle with limited energy, and bombarding it with too much information causes stress. Breaks allow our brains to recover from all the stimulation of Christmas shopping.
  2. Think about the noise – The study found that listening to relaxing music, combined with the noise-cancelling capabilities of Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones, remedied feelings of negativity and increased levels of happiness by as much as 17%. Previous psychological research has consistently shown that music affects thoughts and feelings; use this insight to manage your mood during your Christmas shopping.
  3. Leave early - A third (33%) of the public recommend you make sure you’ve left yourself enough time, not only to beat the crowds, but so you aren’t rushed if you have limited time. We know from peer-reviewed studies that time pressure increases cognitive effort and therefore stress; giving yourself plenty of time gives your brain the room to do what it needs.

Claire Poux, Head of Sound, UK & Ireland at Sony comments: “We know that music, if listened to in the right way, can be a form of escapism or can help focus the mind. We saw from research many shoppers experience higher than normal levels of stress when searching for gifts in noisy shopping areas. Our WH-1000XM3 headphones give shoppers the opportunity to experience our industry leading noise cancelling headphones, allowing them to cut out the chaos surrounding them on the high street this Christmas”.

Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones benefit from a newly developed HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1, which has approximately four times greater signal processing performance than its predecessor. This newly-developed component eliminates daily background sounds such as street noise and human voices.

About the WH-1000XM3

The WH-1000XM3 headphones are the newest addition to the Sony 1000X family. The headband-style around ear model offers all the much-loved features from the previous WH-1000XM2 model, while adding multiple key improvements including upgraded Noise Cancelling performance to enhance the user’s listening experience.

Key features:

  • HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 to allow listening without distractions
  • Bluetooth® technology and NFC
  • Adaptive Sound Control automatically adjusts ambient sound to your activity
  • Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) diaphragm producing a range of frequencies up to 40kHz
  • 32-bit Auto Signal Processing
  • High-Resolution Audio with a 40mm driver
  • Quick Attention Mode allows you to decrease music volume instantly
  • 30 hours of battery life, with Quick Charging function providing 5 hours of wireless playback after 10 mins of charging
  • Optimised for the Google Assistant
  • Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones are priced at £330 and are available now

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About Sony Corporation

Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, imaging, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, interactive entertainment and online businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading electronics and entertainment company in the world.Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $77 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018.Sony Global Web Site: http://www.sony.net/