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20th Jul 2018

Morrisons is introducting a ‘quiet hour’ for customers with autism

All 493 of the UK stores will be introducing the new measures

Kyle Picknell

Autism campaigners have called the move ‘a step in the right direction’

UK supermarket chain Morrisons is introducing a ‘quiet hour’ that will mean a more peaceful, relaxing shopping experience for people with autism who are affected by noisy places or busy crowds.

The ‘quiet hour’ will begin at 9am on Saturdays, and it will mean the supermarket will dim the lights and turn off the beeps and alerts at the till, store announcements over the speaker system and background music to encourage a more relaxing atmosphere in the store.

Every single Morrisons in the UK will be adopting the new procedure – meaning 493 stores in total – in a move that has been called ‘a step in the right direction’ by autism campaigners.

The National Autistic Society helped create the scheme alongside the supermarket due to the stressful experience shopping can be for people who live with autism, caused by the sensory overload of bright lights and excessive noise.

Other customers will be informed of the ‘quiet hour’ by signs as they enter the store.

Morrisons trialled the system in three stores in Woking, Lincoln and Gainsborough and it proved to be a great success with shoppers. One in five customers said afterwards that they had a member of the family or friend with autism who would appreciate the less stressful experience in store.

The environment could also have a positive impact on the shopping experiences of those living with photosensitivity, hyperacusis, Asperger’s and chronic fatigue.

Around 700,000 people in the UK live with autism and it means they often see, hear, and feel the world in a more intense way.

Daniel Cadey from the National Autistic Society has stated that the “Morrisons’ ‘quieter hour’ is a step in the right direction for autistic people who find supermarket shopping a real struggle.”

Community champion at Morrisons in Woking, Angela Gray, 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.”