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Morrisons launches ‘Quieter Hour’ for autistic customers across all stores

The supermarket will dim the lights and turn off music during ‘Quieter Hour’ for its autistic shoppers

Sabrina Barr
Thursday 19 July 2018 12:04 BST
The supermarket has been praised for its inclusive initiative
The supermarket has been praised for its inclusive initiative (Getty Images)

Morrisons has launched a ‘Quieter Hour’ across all of its 493 stores in order to cater for autistic customers who may otherwise feel anxious when shopping.

During the ‘Quieter Hour’, which takes place every Saturday from 9-10am, lights in the stores will be dimmed, background music will be switched off, announcements made over the loudspeaker will be avoided if possible and other noises such as the beeps at checkout counters will be turned down.

The new initiative, which has received support from the National Autistic Society (NAS), was tested out earlier this year in stores located in Lincoln, Woking and Gainsborough.

Supermarket shopping can prove an intense and anxiety-inducing experience for people who have autism, as Tom Purser, head of campaigns and public engagement at NAS, explains.

“Around 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the UK. This means they see, hear and feel the world differently to other people, often in a more intense way, which can make shopping a real struggle,” he says.

“At the National Autistic Society we know that even small changes can make a big difference to the lives of autistic people and their families.

“Shops can help by lowering lighting and noise levels and giving staff training about autism.

“Morrisons’ ‘Quieter Hour’ is a step in the right direction for autistic people and their families, making shopping more autism-friendly.”

Other stores are also going to be following in Morrisons’ footsteps by showing their support for the autistic community in autumn.

NAS has just launched its ‘Autism Hour’ campaign, which will see shops and businesses hold allocated time slots specifically for autistic customers from 6 October until the 13 October.

Bearing the needs of autistic shoppers in mind is extremely important for retail businesses, as autistic campaigner Fay Hough explains.

“Shopping has always been a dreaded task with my autistic son Bowie,” she says.

“Since birth, he’s never coped well with crowded situations, and I remember before knowing he was autistic I used to think: ‘Wow I generally cannot go to public places without him crying.’

“Autism Hour is so important to parents of autistic children. Simple initiatives such as making sure the lights are low, the music is down, the fans have stopped spinning, and the staff are autism aware makes such a difference."

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