Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Pret à Manger Puzzles Customers with Christmas Music in August
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 03:25 PM
The unseasonable appearance of Christmas music in Pret à Manger shops in Manhattan this week appears to have been the result of a programming error, not the creep of the holiday retail season into August.
Customers at the sandwich chain eatery reported hearing tunes like "The 12 Days of Christmas," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland" playing on a loop, the New York Post reported on Monday. And it didn't appear to be a mistake at just one store — several branches were reportedly warbling a merry tune throughout the day.
Workers said they were unable to control the music except by turning it off entirely. Customers complained about the Yuletide onslaught via Twitter.
Seriously, Pret A Manger, Christmas music in August? We're done.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) August 26, 2013
On Tuesday the store posted an explanation on Twitter, saying the music appeared due to a programming error:
Apologies for the early holiday cheer! Our DJ was too eager to put together the perfect holiday playlist and mixed up his tapes #Whoops— Pret A Manger USA (@PretUsa) August 26, 2013
A call to Pret's corporate offices for further comment was not immediately returned on Tuesday. At the branch on Hudson Street in Soho, a worker said holiday tunes "may have snuck in once or twice" earlier in the week but they had since been silenced (a Bjork song was playing in the background as he spoke). He proceeded to place a reporter's sandwich in a bag that, curiously, contained a tidbit about Beethoven. It reads, in part:
Ludwig Van Beethoven, composer (and apparent coffee connoisseur), insisted exactly 60 beans were counted into every cup he had.
No Beethoven was played over the sound system, however.
Weigh in: When is the appropriate time to bring Christmas music back to stores? After Halloween? After Thanksgiving? After Labor Day? Tell us what you think in the comments box below.