Christmas shopping can be overwhelming for everyone, but even more so for those sensitive to the usual supermarket environment.
Woolworths' Quiet Hour is a dedicated "low-sensory" shopping time where temporary changes are made throughout the store to create a calmer shopping experience.
It currently runs from 10.30am to 11.30am in stores every Tuesday and was introduced nationwide after a successful trial.
But from now until December 16, Woolworths will be holding the dedicated Quiet Hour between Monday and Thursday from 10.30am to 11.30am.
“With Christmas less than four weeks away, we understand some customers may find shopping this time of year daunting or stressful,” Jeanette Fenske, Woolworths director of store operations, said in a statement.
“We’re pleased to expand our Quiet Hour through the first few weeks of December so customers have more time to enjoy a quieter shopping experience.
“Quiet Hour has been introduced to more than 900 Woolworths stores and customers have been very welcoming of the option.
"We’re hopeful the additional Quiet Hours will help customers have an easier time shopping for all their Christmas needs.”
What happens during quiet hour?
Following a successful trial of the initiative, it has since been rolled out to 749 stores. During the one-hour time slot the following temporary changes are carried out in each store:
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
Remove roll cages from the shop floor
Stop all PA announcements (excluding cases of emergencies)
Developed in consultation with disability service providers at Life Without Barriers, the hour of quieter shopping has already been extremely successful.
“Quiet Hour is a fantastic initiative by Woolworths that recognises the different needs of some customers. It gives people a way to do their shopping and increase their independence in an environment that is not stressful and overwhelming to them,” Life Without Barriers chief executive Claire Robbs said.
Customers react to quiet hour
As Quiet Hour was introduced to stores throughout 2021, the response from customers has been extremely positive.
“It’s 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 after the hour was introduced at her local store.
“My six-year-old daughter got diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder this year, so I think it's awesome,” another added.
The hour was introduced to Woolworths stores after Coles initially launched their own quiet hour in 2017 after partnering with Autism Spectrum Australia.
You can check whether your local Woolworths offers Quiet Hour by looking at the "store services" section of each individual store on the supermarket's website.
This information will be updated as it is rolled out.
The Coles' Quiet Hour runs throughout selected stores nationally on Tuesdays from 10.30 am to 11.30 am.
You can find your nearest Coles store with Quiet Hour, here.
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