An Asda supermarket situated in Manchester is introducing a “quiet hour”, in order to aid autistic shoppers who can become stressed through noise.
The Cheetham Hill Asda Living store is pioneering a disability-friendly hour and will turn off its escalators, screens and music for an hour on Saturday 7 May. Consumers will also be offered a picture map of the supermarket.
General Manager Simon Lea conveyed the idea after watching an autistic child and his mother struggle on the shop floor.
While discussing the idea Mr. Lea remarked “When we open the doors you will be able to hear a pin drop. That’s the plan. I suffered for many years with anxiety and I used to absolutely hate going into busy stores”.
He also added “If we can make a few small changes to give these customers a better shopping experience and make them comfortable then I know the store will be a better place to shop for everyone”.
Asda has confirmed that it will be monitoring feedback from the hour trial and that it would potentially consider implementing the concept in other stores across the UK.
The National Autistic Society (NAS) has stated that it welcomes the move as shops and other public spaces could be “extremely challenging” because of bright lights, strong smells and crowds.
NAS Campaign Manager Tom Madders has said, “Asda’s initiative is a great example of an organisation taking the trouble to understand how autistic people experience the world and how we hope other retailers are inspired to follow their example”.
The store will be open an hour early and no announcements will be made during the quiet hour, between 8am and 9am.