FROM today, Coles Erskine, Floreat and Hillarys will offer Quiet Hour – a low-sensory shopping experience that’s easy on the eyes and ears.
These three stores are three of 68 Coles supermarkets across Australia to offer Quiet Hour, which features reduced noise and distractions to help make a difference to customers who find it challenging to shop in a heightened sensory environment.
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.
Following the success of the trial, Coles selected stores across Australia to offer Quiet Hour every Tuesday between 10.30 and 11.30am.
Coles accessibility sponsor Peter Sheean said Coles wanted a good geographic spread of stores participating and worked closely with Aspect to identify an additional 66 stores where residents would benefit from Quiet Hour.
“At Coles, we are always looking at ways we can meet the differing needs of our customers by creating a shopping environment in which our customers and team members feel comfortable,” he said.
“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.
“Our team members are enthusiastic about the initiative and look forward to offering Quiet Hour to their customers who might benefit from the experience.”
Autism Spectrum Australia community engagement manager Linzi Coyle said people on the autism spectrum often had 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,” she said.
“The trial held at Coles in Ringwood and Balwyn East was a wonderful success and we received a lot of positive feedback from community members about their experience.
“With autism affecting 1 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.
“Together with Coles, we’re achieving a ‘no-judgement’ shopping space where people on the spectrum and their families can feel comfortable and welcome whilst grocery shopping.
“We encourage anyone who may benefit from the experience to visit a participating Coles store and try sensory-friendly shopping.”
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
No PA announcements *excluding in case of emergencies
Free fruit will be offered at customer service
Additional team members will be available to support customers during the trial
For more information about Aspect and for a list of Coles stores offering Quiet Hour every Tuesday, visit www.autismspectrum.org.au.