Background music, or “Muzak”, can be used by marketers to impose cultures – such as the commercialisation of Christmas – onto consumers and influence their behaviour, experts said.

Dr Alan Bradshaw of Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “Festive jingles are force-fed to Christmas shoppers in a bid to change their mood, influence their sense of time and what sort of products they buy. In other words, this is an attempt to manipulate your shopping habits in a way that you might barely be aware of. …

Dr Bradshaw and Prof Morris B Holbrook of Columbia University examined the phenomenon and found that retailers often “dumb down” the music played in shops to relax customers, meaning it is easier to control their behaviour.

It is thought that slowing down the tempo of music in shops can trick customers into thinking less time has passed, and therefore spend more time perusing the shelves, for example.