On Saturdays from 09:00 AM to 10:00 AM all Morrisons UK stores will dim lights, turn music off, avoid using the tannoy and turn check-out beeps down. The movement of trolleys and baskets will also be reduced. There are almost 500 Morrisons stores in the UK.
This will greatly benefit autistic shoppers who may find shopping a struggle. People with autism may be under-sensitive or over-sensitive to sounds; find social situations a challenge; experience a “meltdown” if overwhelmed.
The National Autistic Society says it is a “step in the right direction” for those who find shopping stressful. The National Autistic Society is encouraging all retailers to take part in a nationwide “autism hour” in October.
Morrisons are the first store to nationalise this policy across all UK stores. However, other shops including an Asda supermarket in Manchester and a Tesco Extra in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, also hold “quiet hours”.
Daniel Cadey, from the National Autistic Society, said the 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK “see, hear and feel the world differently to other people, often in a more intense way”.
Angela Gray, Morrisons community champion at Woking, said: “I was involved in the initial trial as my son is autistic and we found that these changes made a real difference. The trial showed there is a need for a quieter shopping experience for some customers.”
Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them. About 700,000 people in the UK (more than one in 100) are on the autism spectrum.
Source: The National Autistic Society