The rapid growth and spread of convenience stores all around the UK passed under many people’s noses, as our overall shopping habits gradually returned to the “little and often” style predating microwaves and fridges.
The supermarket industry accordingly responded, and for a few years, the smaller stores have been a major focus for the large player, instead of the clunky, huge, and politically tricky superstores. Currently, there are over 46,000 convenience stores spread across the country, with nearly half of them comprised of petrol stations and independents. The sector is worth nearly £38bn and since it’s still expanding, its value is estimated to exceed £44bn by 2020.
What does this have to do with acoustics? Well, in order to make the most out of the “convenience” part of the name, these stores have to be situated near their target market. This can be in form of a store located in a quiet neighbourhood, in a new retail unit on the ground floor of a new block of flats, or in a parade of shops (usually with flats above).
With the industry still expanding, more stores will continue to pop up in more creative locations. Soundproofing wall becomes an important consideration for these store owners and operators. The following is a list of ongoing acoustic challenges.
Building Services Equipment
Most customers rarely see the “behind-the-scenes” kit used to cool the sales floor, the food, and the back-of-house staff areas. However, you will often find several whirring machines tucked away in these areas, usually at the rear of the unit or on the roof.
The kit essentially ramps up and down, switches on and off, and some could do this 24/7 for many months a year. As such, acoustic attenuation and analysis of the equipment are recommended on a site-by-site basis, so that no noise nuisance is caused to the customers, local residents, whose lounge, or the balcony or bedroom that could be overlooking it.
Cooling systems usually involve equipment with a rotating element, which is often rigidly attached to a ceiling or wall and transmits vibrations to the space next door in the process, in form of low-frequency rumble. If the neighbours are sensitive, and this can happen to anyone at times like 5 am, this will likely be a problem.
You can solve this issue through the proper consideration of the equipment and using vibration isolation mounts. However, take care not to forget other connections that may transmit further vibrations into the structure, such as access gantries and pipes.
Deliveries to the facility can arrive in different types of vehicles and take place at different times of the day. However, the overall delivery slot usually is limited based on the local authority guidelines on planning permissions.
The final steps of the delivery journey usually involve a short push in a wheeled cage from the lorry or van and across the pavement into the warehouse or store. For this reason, the delivery drop-off points have to be accounted for and ideally situated on the noisier part of the store to restrict the noise. However, if the building is located on a busy road, this could lead to traffic issues.
Most activities in the stores are relatively quiet. However, some do need some attenuation and the necessary measure undertaken, such as when a sensitive use is in the same building, like odd-hours deliveries taking place in areas adjacent to or underneath residential flats.
As the number of stores continues to multiply, considering acoustic issues will be essential to ensure the local shop is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood and is not an inconvenience to the neighbours. The rapid growth and spread of convenience stores all around the UK passed under many people’s noses, as our overall shopping habits gradually returned to the “little and often” style predating microwaves and fridges.