Tesco to trial autism “quiet hour”

Tesco, the third largest retailer in the world, will trial an autism “quiet hour” to aid those who struggle shopping in noisy and crowded environments.

The six-week trial will see automatic doors permanently ajar, music switched off, lights dimmed, shelf stacking kept to a minimum, display TVs turned off, signs placed to raise awareness, and no tannoy announcements.

The quiet hour is currently taking place in one of its Crawley stores between 9 am and 10 am on Saturdays, but the supermarket says that it is ready to roll out more trials if they prove a success.

The idea was influenced by Jo-Ann D’Costa Manuel, who has an eight-year-old with autism.

She said: “Tesco shopping was always an impossible experience for us due to the sensory overload and lack of public awareness.

“I have joined forces with Tesco to introduce a weekly Quiet Hour to make the shopping experience more accessible to adults, children and families living with autism.

“Creating public autism awareness is also at the core of this service.”

Ms Manuel says she is now able to enjoy her family shopping trips thanks to the trial.

Speaking to the Independent, Daniel Cadey, Autism Access Development Manager at The National Autistic Society, said they were thrilled about the new scheme.

“We’re delighted that Tesco is trialling an autism-friendly hour in its Crawley store,” he said.

“Like anyone, people on the autism spectrum and their families want to be able to go shopping. But we know that many rely on routine and can find the often busy, loud and unpredictable environment of supermarkets disorientating and overwhelming.”