Shopping in Marks & Spencer is about to get quieter as the retail giant has decided to switch off music in its stores.

M&S is implementing a new music-free policy over the next few weeks at 300 clothing and home branches in response to negative feedback from customers and staff.

The chain started playing music in its shops 10 years ago and, like other businesses, has faced a backlash over using repetitive musical playlists.

Anti-noise group Pipedown recently staged a protest against the retailer's selection of tunes and urged shoppers to convince Croydon businessman and new M&S boss Steve Rowe to end background music.

Studies have found people with hearing problems and noise sensitivity can find background music disorientating.

Pipedown said: "This decision, which will save M&S money, is the result of years and years of determined campaigning by Pipedowners and other people, who have refused to be fobbed off with bland dismissals.

"M&S remains the UK's biggest chain store, a national institution. So this is a great day for all campaigners for freedom from piped music.

"Millions of customers will be delighted by this news. So will thousands, probably tens of thousands, of people working in M&S who have had to tolerate non-stop music not of their choice all day for years.

"Now we can shop in peace."

The music licensing company PRS for Music said M&S stands to save tens of thousands of pounds a year as a result of turning off commercial music, which costs around £1,600 a year per 10,000 metres of shop floor space.

But Gavin Larkins, head of licensing at PRS, said: "Used correctly, music can be a powerful tool in a business setting and for many business owners forms an integral part of their business plan, used as a commercial driver to attract customers, motivate staff and as an aid to enhance their brand.

"PRS for Music believes that quality music can make a major contribution to business success - whatever the sector."

An M&S spokeswoman said: "We're focused on putting the customer at the heart of everything we do.

"This decision is the result of extensive research and feedback from our customers and colleagues."

What do you think? Is background music in shops an irritation or does it make shopping more pleasant? Should other retailers follow M&S’ example? Add your comments below and vote in our poll.