Retail bakers planning to get into the festive spirit by decking their shops with gaudy tinsel and putting their Best of Christmas CD on repeat actually run the risk of alienating shoppers.

That is according to new research by Nancy Puccinelli, associate fellow at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. She found shoppers who are feeling stressed by Christmas may avoid stores that revel in the festive season.

An expert in the psychology of marketing, Puccinelli found that consumers in bad moods will avoid salespeople who are overly positive and upbeat, as well as retail outlets holding celebrations. The contrast between consumers’ negative feelings and the atmosphere in the store actually makes them feel worse and less willing to purchase.  

“There are a number of things that retailers can do to overcome this phenomenon and improve the consumers’ shopping experience to produce more satisfied customers who spend more, and to foster greater long-term loyalty,” said Puccinelli:

These include toning down the décor by replacing bright reds and golds with more muted blues, silvers and white. Retailers should also consider playing classical music rather than overtly festive songs such as Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody.