Coles and the Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) have partnered together on a pilot program through the end of October which will see stores go quiet for an hour as part of a sensory-friendly experience.
Not only quieter, but the lights will also be dimmed to 50% levels, register and scanner volumes will be turned down to its lowest level, stocking carts will be off the store floor, shopping cart collections will stop, and PA announcements will be avoided — except for emergencies.
You might ask why?
The test is a result of the findings a study conducted by the organization on the shopping habits of people on the autism spectrum and their families.
"We have invested in training for team members to increase their understanding of sensory overload and how to best respond to customer needs," Linzi Coyle, Aspect Community Engagement and Operations.
So far, according to reports on Mashable, the initiative has been warmly received, especially by a mother named Emily Dive who posted on the supermarket's Facebook page, describing the experience as a "milestone."
"We filled a trolley!!! No mad dash to get in and out as quickly as possible only grabbing a handful of items," according to the post.
"Kudos to you Coles for your quiet hour today, and acknowledging your environment for people entering your store can be a sensory land-mine for many to navigate."
No question that this move is the right thing to do for one hour a week on Tuesdays for this special needs group – but maybe we can discover a bit more. In our hassled and harried lives producing a supermarket experience that is calmer and quieter may just be what shoppers need; and may even attract new shoppers and sales 24/7.