Coles shoppers could be excused for thinking they were shopping in a library with the introduction of Quiet Hour at the Cleveland store every Tuesday from 10.30am to 11.30am.
Cleveland is one of 68 Coles supermarkets across Australia to provide a low-sensory shopping experience by making changes in store, such as reducing noise and distractions to help make a difference to customers who find it challenging to shop in a heightened sensory environment.
During Quiet Hour store lighting will be dimmed by 50 per cent, Coles Radio will be switched off, Register and scanner volumes will be reduced to the lowest level, No trolley collections and roll cages will be removed from the shop floor, there will be no PA announcements excluding in case of emergencies and free fruit will be offered at customer service.
In August, Coles partnered with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) to trial Quiet Hour at two Victorian stores (Ringwood and Balwyn East) to support customers who are, or have family members, on the autism spectrum.
Coles Accessibility sponsor Peter Sheean said Coles was always looking at ways to meet the differing needs of its customers.
“We were really pleased to receive a positive response from our customers and team members, who welcomed Quiet Hour and provided feedback on social media. It’s fantastic to hear that the changes we made in store during the trial had helped to make a real difference to our customers’ shopping experience at Coles, “ he said.
Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) Community Engagement and Operations Manager, Linzi Coyle, said Aspect was proud to partner with Coles to help create a new low-sensory shopping experience at Cleveland.
“People on the autism spectrum often have difficulty processing sensory information and can find sounds, light, smell, touch and taste overwhelming. For many individuals and families, a simple trip to the shops can be difficult,” Linzi said.
“With autism affecting one in 100 Australians, expanding this low-sensory shopping experience to more Coles stores will have a significant improvement on the lives of many children, young people and adults on the spectrum, as well as their family members.
“The modifications to the shopping experience haven’t just been about creating low physical and sensory stimulators. We’re achieving a ‘no-judgement’ shopping space where people on the spectrum and their families can feel comfortable and welcome whilst grocery shopping.”
Additional team members will be available to support customers during the trial. More on autismspectrum.org.au.