Coles piloting low-sensory shopping for customers with autism

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 16th August 2017

Coles is testing low-sensory supermarket shopping for customers with autism.

Working with Autism Spectrum Australia, two Victorian Coles stores will now introduce “Quiet Hour” every Tuesday morning.

Quiet Hour will provide a low sensory experience by diming lighting by 50 per cent, turning down in-store music to its lowest volume, turning down register and scanner volumes to lowest levels, avoiding trolley collections and having trained team members ready to assist customers.

PA announcements will not occur unless there is an emergency and all roll cages will be removed from the store.

Coles Accessibility Sponsor, Peter Sheean, said Coles is always looking at ways it can meet the needs of its customers.

“Through Quiet Hour, we hope to make a difference to our customers who find it challenging to shop in a heightened sensory environment,” Sheean said.

Quite Hour is scheduled to occur between 10:30am – 11:30am every Tuesday until the end of October 2017 at Coles Ringwood and Coles Balwyn East.

The initiative is being tested after Autism Spectrum Australia conducted a study and found that bright supermarket lights were a common problem for those with autism. Music, register beeps and queuing were also listed as obstacles.

Autism Spectrum Australia invested in training for Coles team members to increase their understanding of sensory overload.

“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,” said Linzi Coyle, from Aspect.

Quiet Hour is not limited to those with autism, so all other customers can still shop at the Coles stores during Quite Hour.


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