If you’ve noticed things are a little quieter at your local Woolworths store on a Tuesday morning, there’s a very good reason why.
The store has introduced Quiet Hour and is currently rolling it out nationally, following the success of initial trials.
The "low-sensory" shopping hour was designed specifically for people with sensitivity to a usual supermarket environment and aims to offer a much calmer experience.
“Our customers have told us there’s a need in the community for a low-sensory shopping experience,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
“Our team takes great pride in ensuring the store is quieter and less stressful for customers who want to shop during Quiet Hour and we look forward to welcoming them in store.”
During the dedicated shopping time, stores will make temporary changes to reduce anxiety and sensory stress for those with specific needs, such as autism and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Quiet Hour runs from 10.30am to 11.30am throughout stores every Tuesday.
While the initiative has already been in effect in some stores, it’s currently being rolled out nationally.
Changes to be made during Quiet Hour
During the 1-hour time slot, Woolworths stores will make the following temporary changes:
Turn down music or radio
Turn off bakery ovens or chicken cooker buzzers for an hour
Reduce the volume on store phones and registers on the trading floor
Clear store entryways
Reduce lighting and in-store music
Remove roll cages from the shop floor
Stop all PA announcements (excluding cases of emergencies)
To date, there are 264 stores across Australia currently offering the initiative.
Woolworths shoppers welcome change to stores
The initiative was recently rolled out at the Lavington Square store in Albury NSW where shoppers welcomed the change.
“Absolutely awesome. Hopefully, in the future, they can add an additional hour in the afternoon. I work in disability support and it would be really handy for some of our participants to be able to go once they’re home from their day programs!” one customer wrote on a community Facebook page.
“My six-year-old daughter got diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder this year, so I think it's awesome,” commented another.
“Fantastic idea. Well done to the store,” said a third.
Quiet Hour was first developed in conjunction with disability service providers at Life Without Barriers in a series of trials.
The aim was to give those with a disability more “independence in an environment that suits them best”.
“Quiet Hour is a great example of large commercial brands recognising the diversity of our community and changing their practices to embrace their community more,” Life Without Barriers Chief Executive Claire Robbs, said.
“This Woolworths initiative opens up grocery shopping to people who have different accessibility needs like sensitivities to bright lights, noises, and overstimulation.
"People should not be restricted to taking part in their community because of their disability and Woolworths is now ensuring all shoppers are welcome and able to do the things many of us simply take for granted.”
You can find out whether your local Woolworths store has introduced Quiet Hour by checking the "store services" section of each individual store on the Woolworths website.
This information will be updated as it is rolled out.
The Woolworths initiative comes after Coles introduced Quiet Hour to some of its stores, partnering with Autism Spectrum Australia.
Their quiet hour runs throughout selected stores nationally on Tuesdays, 10.30 am to 11.30 am.
You can find your nearest Coles store with Quiet Hour, here.
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