Supermarket giant Coles is ~finally~ doing something good as it’s now extending and expanding its Quiet Hour for shoppers with sensory needs.
From 6pm to 7pm on Monday through to Friday, all Coles stores will enforce a quiet period for customers who find it difficult to shop in high-sensory environments.
The Quiet Hour will see stores lowering their radio volume, reducing register and scanner sounds and workers refraining from using PA Systems — of course, except in emergencies.
“At Coles, we are always looking for new ways to serve our customers with disabilities and their carers, and we are privileged to have many active voices of people with disability in our feedback channels,” Katie Wyatt, Coles Head of Diversity and Inclusion, said.
“Up to 70 per cent of autistic people experience sensitivity to sounds, with autistic adults reporting that these symptoms worsen with stress and anxiety, therefore, Quiet Hour promotes increased opportunity and enhances the shopping experience for thousands of customers.”
The supermarket giant first introduced Quiet Hour in 2017. Since then, selected stores across the nation have continued to create a comfortable environment for people who may find high sensory environments challenging by reducing sound and lighting from 10.30am to 11.30am on Tuesdays.
In addition to the introduction of Quiet Hour, in 2021, Coles partnered up with not-for-profit autism organisation Amaze to build initiatives that meet the needs of people who have autism and their families.
Jim Mullan, the CEO of Amaze, said he was “delighted” to see the partnership with Coles “grow in strength and success”.
“The expansion of their low-sensory shopping experience is just another example of the many steps that they have taken over the years to understand and purposefully meet the needs of not only their Autistic customers but also their autistic employees,” he said.
“Amaze’s vision is an autism inclusive Australia and we’re proud to have partners like Coles who share that same aspiration.”
Do other stores have Quiet Hour?
Woolworths Group introduced a Quiet Hour for customers in 2019 following a successful trial in NSW and ACT.
More than 260 Woolies have a Quiet Hour every Tuesday from 10.30am to 11.30am for people with sensory needs. Similar to Coles, radios are turned down, lights are lowered, and oven buzzers are off.
As for ALDI, it seems like other countries have introduced a Quiet Hour, but it has yet to take effect Down Under. According to a media release from ALDI Ireland, its Quiet Hours are every Tuesday between 6.30 to 8.30pm. Fingers crossed it brings the Quiet Hours here soon!
The Courier Mail reported that Gatton IGA would also be implementing a Quiet Hour from 10am to 11am every Tuesday in 2019.
Hopefully, other grocery stores will implement a daily Quiet Hour just in case people who need them aren’t free during Coles’ specific times to shop.
Image source: Getty Images / Bloomberg