Coles will extend its 'Quiet Hour' initiative to 68 supermarkets to help shoppers who have autism, their families and their carers.
Following a successful trial in the Ringwood and Balwyn East stores in Melbourne in August, the program will be extended to selected stores in each state and territory.
During 'Quiet Hour', noises and distractions in the supermarkets are reduced to assist those who might be negatively impacted by intense sensory environments. These changes include dimming the lights by 50 percent, reducing scanner volumes and switching off the radio. Shop announcements are also halted, trolley collection is stopped and shelf stacking is suspended.
Free fruit is offered to shoppers during 'Quiet Hour' and additional staff are made available on the floor to provide extra assistance.
"We were really pleased to receive a positive response from our customers and team members, who welcomed 'Quiet Hour' and provided feedback on social media. It's fantastic to hear that the changes we made in store during the trial had helped to make a real difference to our customers' shopping experience at Coles," Coles' accessibility sponsor Peter Sheean told Fairfax media.
"Our team members at participating stores are enthusiastic about the initiative and look forward to offering Quiet Hour to their customers who might benefit from the experience."
'Quiet Hour' is open to all shoppers, whether they are on the autism spectrum or not and will be offered every Tuesday between 10.30am and 11.30am.
Coles Stores Participating In 'Quiet Hour'
New South Wales : Warners Bay, Old Bar, Wadalba, Lisarow, Inverell, Banora Point, Medowie, Wellington, Bega, Ulladulla, Wattle Grove, Moss Vale, Kings Langley, Goulburn, Manly Vale, Castle Hill, Epping, Caringbah, Brighton-Le-Sands and Pyrmont.
Queensland : Cairns Central, Maryborough, Caloundra, Kippa Ring, Cleveland, Everton Park, Newfarm, Rockhampton South, Townsville Annandale, Mt Gravatt, Marsden, Toowoomba, Helensvale and Mudgeeraba.
South Australia : Tea Tree Plaza, Parkholme, Anzac Highway, Mount Barker, Port Pirie.
Northern Territory : Casuarina Bradshaw.
Tasmania : Newtown.
Victoria : Wendouree, Belmont, Brunswick West, Burnside, Altona Meadows, Essendon Fields, Pakenham Lakeside, Ferntree Gully, Ringwood, Brandon Park, Langwarrin, Cranbourne West, Benalla, Prahran, Brighton, Eltham, Balwyn East and Fitzroy.
Western Australia : Margaret River, Erskine, Southern River, South Lake, Mundaring, Floreat, Hillarys, Kalgoorlie and Kalgoorlie (Hannans).