Coles supermarkets has introduced a “Quiet Hour” to make shopping a little easier for people with autism.
Two stores in Victoria are trialling a “low sensory shopping experience” between 10.30am-11.30am Tuesdays until the end of October.
The stores in Ringwood and Balwyn East are offering the quiet experience as part of a partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia.
Quiet Hour sees the lights dimmed by 50 per cent, Coles Radio volume reduced, trolley collections avoided and free fruit offered at customer service.
The stores will also remove roll cages from the ship floor, reduce register and scanner volumes and provide trained team members to assist customers.
Coles accessibility sponsor Peter Sheean said it was a way to “meet the differing needs” of customers, aimed to keep them and staff “comfortable”.
“Although we have modified some of the physical and sensory stimulators in store, we also hope to achieve a ‘no-judgement’ shopping space for people and families on the spectrum, where customers will feel comfortable and welcome,” he said.
Aspect (Austism Spectrum Australia) conducted a study earlier this year, which asked individuals on the autism spectrum and their families about their shopping habits.
It revealed Tuesday mornings were the most common time for those on the autism spectrum along with family members and carers to do their shopping.
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Bright lighting was found to be the most common cause of difficulty in supermarket shopping, while music, register beeps and queuing were all mentioned as obstacles.
Shoppers who don’t have autism are still able to shop during Quiet Hour.