Woking Morrisons to launch 'quiet shopping hour' for people with autism

(Published on 28/03/2017)

The Woking store will host the initiative on Saturday mornings over the next three months.

The hustle and bustle of a busy supermarket will be transformed into a much more tranquil setting as part of a shopping initiative for those on the autistic spectrum.

From Saturday (April 1) the Woking branch of Morrisons will be hosting the hour long session in a bid to make the store more accessible to everyone. The three-month trial has been developed by the supermarket in conjunction with a national autism charity.

The three-month trial has been developed by the supermarket in conjunction with a national autism charity.

The initiative will mean the usual sounds of the store in Goldsworth Road will be swapped for a calmer atmosphere, with music and tannoys turned off, as well as a ban on using noisy "wheeled cages" to unpack stock.

The lights in the shop will also be dimmed during the shopping hour.

Angela Gray, Morrisons Woking community champion, said: "Woking Morrisons are proud to be taking part in a trial of a quiet shopping hour.

"Lights will be dimmed, music and tannoys turned off. Hand dryers will also be turned off and wheeled cages will not be used on the shop floor during this time.

"The trial has been developed after listening to customers and taking advice from the National Autistic Society, and Morrisons will be working with local autism groups to evaluate its success every Saturday between 9-10am for three months."

The National Autistic Society, which provides information, support and services, says that although everyone is different, people on the autism spectrum may be under or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely difficult.

Autism means that some people could experience a "meltdown" if overwhelmed by anxiety or sensory overload, the charity adds.

Morrisons is not the first retailer to trial a quiet shopping hour.

In the run up to Christmas last year Toys 'R' Us branches in Woking and Staines opened for one hour exclusively for parents and carers of children with autism and additional needs.

Morrisons Woking's scheme starts on Saturday (April 1), between 9am and 10am, for an initial period of 12 weeks.