To keep loiterers, vagrants at bay, retailers are


Major retail chains are using classical music to keep loiterers and vagrants at bay, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The paper noted that Walgreens and other retailers in the city are broadcasting the likes of Bach through speakers outside their stores for this purpose.

What are the details?

The Sun-Times said earlier this month classical music was playing at the entrances of a few Walgreens in the city through speakers covered by protective screens: Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Rossini’s William Tell Overture, and Strauss’ Radetzky March, which the paper said are “vigorous pieces all meant to encourage patrons and vagrants alike to move along.”

The paper said the Walgreens in Greektown was loiterer-free upon investigation.

The Sun-Times added that Walgreens acknowledged it’s using classical music to discourage vagrancy but declined to state why the tactic is believed to be effective.

The paper also said retailers far away from Chicago have tried it out with some success.

Indeed, it’s not a new thing:

Ohio gas station blasts opera music 24/7 to deter

Philly gas station playing opera music to deter loitering: ‘It’s better than violence’

Rite Aid playing classical music to fight panhandling,

More from the Sun-Times:

Retailers, whether in big cities or suburban malls, have come under pressure from increased thefts and pandemic-related disruptions, said John Melaniphy, president of Chicago-based retail consultancy Melaniphy & Associates.

He said merchants are looking for ways to hold down crime and youthful rowdiness while keeping locations attractive for shoppers.

“Playing classical music is one strategy,” Melaniphy added to the paper. “It doesn’t create a lot of disturbance. It doesn’t involve the police. It’s not intimidating. Retailers want their core customers to enter and exit without concerns about their security.”

Walgreens spokesperson Kris Lathan told the Sun-Times the chain has used classical music for more than a year at certain locations “to help deter loitering on the premises. We take steps to ensure the music is only loud enough for the immediate area around the store and cannot be heard in surrounding neighborhoods.”

Douglas Schenkelberg — executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless — told the paper he found the tactic “really disturbing” when informed about it.

“The root cause of homelessness is a lack of housing, and the problem is not going to be solved just by getting people to move from a parking lot to somewhere else,” Schenkelberg noted to the Sun-Times, adding that merchants should reconsider policies that “treat people like a nuisance rather than like human beings.”

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