Following a successful trial period in NSW and the ACT, more than 260 stores across Australia will now offer the low-sensory Quiet Hour to customers.
The program is designed to reduce anxiety and sensory stress for customers with specific needs, including autism, by providing a quieter and less stimulating environment in store.
Autism Spectrum Australia estimates more than 300,000 (or 1 in 70) Australians are on the autism spectrum.
Stores will lower lights, turn down music and radio, and turn off oven buzzers for an hour every Tuesday between 10:30am and 11:30am.
“We’ve heard from our customers there is a need in the community for a low sensory shopping experience," said Woolworths Business Support Manager - Admin and Service Ian Murphy.
“Off the back of successful trials, we’re delighted to expand Quiet Hour to select stores nationally for the benefit of even more customers. Our team takes great pride in ensuring the store is quieter and less stressful for customers who want to shop during Quiet Hour and we look forward to welcoming them in store.”
The low sensory initiative was developed in consultation with disability service providers at Life Without Barriers.
“Quiet Hour is a fantastic accessibility initiative by Woolworths that recognises that people have different accessibility needs," said Life Without Barriers Chief Executive Claire Robbs.
“It gives people a way to do their shopping and increase their independence in an environment that is not stressful and overwhelming to them.”
During Quiet Hour, customers will also notice the following changes:
- Reducing volume on store phones and registers on the trading floor;
- Roll cages will be removed from the shop floor; and
- No PA announcements (excluding in case of emergencies).