Supermarket chain Morrisons has introduced a weekly ‘quieter hour’ in support of autistic shoppers who struggle with music, lights and noise.
Morrisons will implement the scheme in its 439 stores across the UK on Saturdays from 9 to 10, where music will be turned off, lights will be dimed, the use of tannoy will be avoided and check-out beeps will be turned down.
Additionally, the store will put signs during the hour letting other customers know it is meant to be a calm environment for shoppers. The National Autistic Society said the scheme is a “step in the right direction”, and invited retailers to take part in a nationwide “autism hour” in October.
Retailers including toy shop The Entertainer and Tesco have already held ‘quiet hours’, and Sainsbury’s has participated in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour in October last year.
Charlotte King, who has a three-year-old son undergoing diagnosis for autism, said the initiative was “amazing” and added: “I personally avoid taking him anywhere in shopping malls. It is the noise, the lights, it is tannoys. It is too much for him to take in. It looks like you are a bad parent with a naughty child.”
“Parents will be more relaxed knowing there will be people there that understand and won’t judge them, this will help reduce anxiety levels for everyone.”
Tabitha Campbell Beattie, whose son Toby is on the autism spectrum, said an hour is insufficient and added: “If a supermarket has a quieter hour, that doesn’t stop the supermarket being busy with long queues which can be an added stress.”
She added that she would like to see “a time zone where disabled children, young adults and those with other disabilities should be allowed to shop without the normal public in the [store]”.