A major change introduced by Coles has been welcomed by disability advocates after the supermarket giant announced it is extending its 'Quiet Hour' initiative to better support customers who experience sensory challenges.
Quiet Hour has been expanded to every weekday between 6.00pm and 7.00pm in supermarkets nationwide to allow customers who find high sensory environments difficult more time in the evening to enjoy their grocery shop.
Coles Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Katie Wyatt, said Coles is committed to meeting the diverse needs of customers, prompting the nationwide expansion of the initiative.
"At Coles, we are always looking for new ways to serve our customers with disabilities and their carers, and we are privileged to have many active voices of people with disability in our feedback channels," she said.
What is Quiet Hour?
A low-sensory shopping experience, during Quiet Hour, changes include the Coles Radio turned down to the lowest volume, reduced register and scanner volume and team members refraining from using the PA system, except for in emergencies.
"Up to 70 per cent of autistic people experience sensitivity to sounds, with autistic adults reporting that these symptoms worsen with stress and anxiety. Therefore Quiet Hour promotes increased opportunity and enhances the shopping experience for thousands of customers," Wyatt explained.
Coles first supermarket to introduce Quiet Hour in 2017
Coles introduced ‘Quiet Hour’ at select supermarkets around the country after a positive response from Victorian shoppers during trials in 2017.
Between 10.30am and 11.30am on Tuesdays, the stores would switch off the radio, dim the lighting by 50 per cent and reduce register volume.
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Other support for those on the autism spectrum
It is not the only initiative Coles is promoting in support of the one in 70 Australians on the autism spectrum, as the supermarket says it has also made digital upgrades to the Coles app to make life easier and increased representation in the workforce — with 7.6 per cent of team members identifying as having a disability.
The business also continue to collaborate with Amaze, a not-for-profit autism organisation and have been doing so since 2021 to help meet the needs of autistic people and their families.
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