Shhh! … Coles ushers in ‘Quiet Hour’ to more stores

Coles’ is now offering ‘Quiet Hour’, its so-called “low-sensory shopping experience”, at 256 of its supermarkets across Australia.

According to Coles, the Quiet Hour initiative offers an experience that’s “easy on the eyes and ears”. By reducing noise, lighting and distractions in-store, it sets out to make a difference to customers who find shopping in a heightened sensory environment challenging.

Coles says Quiet Hour came to fruition thanks to a Victorian customer, David Brinkley, who contacted the supermarket on Facebook in early 2017. He put forward the idea of reducing noise at his local Coles store in Healesville outside Melbourne. He said he wanted to make shopping easier for parents with children on the autism spectrum.

Trial and success

Within a few months of David’s request, Coles partnered with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) to research what changes they could make in-store to support customers with sensory challenges. Coles then trialled the concept in two of its supermarkets in Victoria in August 2017.

Following the trial’s success, Coles rolled out Quiet Hour to 70 stores nationally just three months later, followed by another 107 supermarkets in 2018. And now a further 79 stores are offering the low-sensory shopping experience every Tuesday between 10.30am and 11.30am.

Quiet Hour in all stores by 2023

Coles Accessibility Sponsor Peter Sheean says Coles has received an overwhelmingly positive response to Quiet Hour from customers.

“At Coles, we’re passionate about improving accessibility in our stores. We’re always looking at ways we can meet the differing needs of our customers by creating a shopping environment in which our customers and team members feel comfortable,” he said.

“We know that it’s 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.

“We’re incredibly thankful to David (Brinkley) for taking the time to reach out to Coles to bring to life a wonderful initiative. It’s amazing to see a simple idea from David turn into a movement with so many Coles team members working to implement and successfully execute Quiet Hour in their stores.”

Features of Quiet Hour

  • Low lighting throughout the store.
  • No Coles Radio over speakers.
  • Register and scanner volumes at low level.
  • No trolley collections or roll cages on the shop floor.
  • No PA announcements (excluding emergencies).
  • Free fruit on offer at customer service.
  • Extra trained team members to support customers during Quiet Hour.

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