As of the 20th of November, Coles will be having a quiet hour once a week.
They will dim store lighting by 50 per cent, switch the radio off and reduce volumes of their registers and scanners to the lowest level. No trolley collections and roll cages will be removed from the shop floor throughout the hour, announcements will only be made in emergencies and additional staff will be available to support customers during the trial phase.
It has been introduced for those who find the heightened sensory environment of a supermarket overwhelming. With the constant music, beeping scanners and bright lights it can be a challenging experience. The new low-sensory shopping experience has been designed to be easy on the eyes and ears.
The national supermarket chain partnered with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) in August to trial Quiet Hour at two Victorian stores to support customers who live with autism or have family members who do.
Following a successful trial, Quiet Hour will be offered every Tuesday between 10.30am and 11.30am at 68 supermarkets across Australia.
People have already jumped on Twitter to show their support.
— Kidspot (@KidspotSocial) November 21, 2017
— Cat Woods (@Catty_Tweeter) November 21, 2017
— Aimee Amelia ?️? (@aimee_amelia) November 21, 2017
— James Morrow (@pwafork) November 20, 2017
— Bronwyn Hemsley (@BronwynHemsley) November 20, 2017
Linzi Coyle, Aspect’s community engagement and operations manager, said a simple trip to the shops can be difficult for many individuals and families.
“People on the autism spectrum often have difficulty processing sensory information and can find sounds, light, smell, touch and taste overwhelming,” she said.
“Together with Coles, we’re achieving a ‘no-judgment’ shopping space where people on the spectrum and their families can feel comfortable and welcome whilst grocery shopping.”
Peter Sheean, Coles’ accessibility sponsor, said the company wanted a good geographic spread of participating stores.
“We were really pleased to receive a positive response from our customers and team members, who welcomed Quiet Hour and provided feedback on social media,” he said.
Those affected by autism praised the initiatives. “This is absolutely amazing,” one person wrote on Aspect’s Facebook page.
“I know my son struggles going to the supermarket because of sensory overload so this would help make the stress of going to do the shopping alot [sic] less and more of a positive experience.”
You can check out the locations participating in quiet hour here.