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Quiet hour expands in Tasmania

COLES’ low-sensory shopping experience, ‘Quiet Hour’, will now be offered at seven Coles supermarkets in Tasmania following unprecedented customer demand since its debut at New Town in 2017.

Quiet Hour offers a low-sensory shopping experience that’s easy on the eyes and ears by reducing noise, lighting and other distractions in-store to help make a difference to customers who find it challenging to shop in a heightened sensory environment.

During Quiet Hour, customers will notice the following changes in participating Coles supermarkets:

Lighting will be reduced throughout the store.

Coles radio will be switched off.

Register and scanner volumes will be reduced to the lowest level.

No trolley collections, and roll cages will be removed from the shop floor.

No PA announcements (excluding in case of emergencies).

Free fruit will be offered at customer service.

Additional trained team members will be available to support customers during the hour.

Coles accessibility sponsor Peter Sheean said Coles had received an overwhelmingly positive response to Quiet Hour from customers, who said it made a real difference to their shopping experience.

“At Coles, we are passionate about improving accessibility in our stores,” he said.

“We are always looking at ways we can make life easier for our customers and how we can respond to the differing needs of communities by creating a shopping environment in which our customers and team members feel comfortable.

“We know that it is estimated that one in 70 people in Australia are on the spectrum, so that’s a lot of our customers who find it challenging to come into our supermarket.

“Our goal is to offer Quiet Hour at every eligible Coles supermarket by 2023.

“Unfortunately, not all supermarkets currently have the ability or technology to offer Quiet Hour at their store due to control of lighting or audio and store locations.

“However, we are working hard with our store teams to retrofit technology into those stores, particularly where we’ve had feedback that customers want to access Quiet Hour as part of their shopping.”

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) national manager aspect practice and clinical psychologist Dr Tom Tutton said he was pleased to see Coles continuing its commitment to an autism-friendly Australia.

“We know that the types of practices that Coles is implementing as part of its Quiet Hour program can make enormous differences to people on the autism spectrum and their families,” he said.

“People on the autism spectrum can have heightened sensory awareness which makes shopping in a store with bright lights, loud music, unexpected voiceovers and the constant noise of cash registers incredibly overwhelming.

“These small changes make a significant difference and highlight the importance of businesses becoming more aware of their customers’ needs.”

Coles is a partner of the Australian Network on Disability and the National Relay Service, and is working on a range of initiatives to create an inclusive environment for all members of the community across each pillar of its “Better Together” inclusion program.

Caption: Coles accessibility sponsor Peter Sheean with Coles team members welcoming Quiet Hour.