HOME Bargains is the latest store to introduce a weekly ‘quiet hour’ for shoppers with autism or parents with autistic children.
The discount retailer, which has a branch on the Shrub Hill Retail Park, will hold the quiet hours between 9am and 10am every Saturday morning.
During this time, the stores’ music will be turned off and the tannoy will only be used if an urgent announcement is needed.
The idea was created in conjunction with The National Autistic Society because those who suffer from autism can find loud noises and sudden movements distressing.
Joe Morris, operations director at Home Bargains, said: “We have introduced the Quiet Hour to add a peaceful element to retail therapy.
“Home Bargains stores can be busy places, which can be potentially overwhelming for people with autism, especially at this time of year.
“We have created the quieter and calmer environment to enable all of our customers to have an enjoyable and relaxing shopping experience.
“We will continually assess where we can support each and every one of our 5 million weekly shoppers, whatever their situation.”
Tom Purser, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: “We are very pleased to hear that Home Bargains is introducing a quiet hour into its stores to make shopping a little easier for autistic people and their families, having taken part in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour in October.
“We hear from autistic people and their families that shops and other public spaces can be challenging because of bright lights, strong smells and crowds or queues, all of which can cause them to feel overwhelmed.
“Our research shows that 64 per cent of autistic people avoid the shops and 28 per cent have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism.”
He added small changes such as quiet hours could transform the lives of autistic people and their families, allowing them to take part in activities that many people took for granted.
“We hope more shops will be inspired by Home Bargains and do their bit to help make sure autistic people and their families have the same opportunities as everyone else.”