Published On: February 9th, 2024|Categories: Community, Disability|Tags: |

Quiet Shopping Hours

With Coles recently announcing its expansion of “Quiet Hour” across its supermarkets nationally, we thought it was a good opportunity to take a closer look into what quiet shopping hours are and why they are important for the community in general.

Although shopping can be an escape for some, it can be a stressful and anxious experience for others. Shopping can be an overwhelming and sensory overloading experience for those who are neurodivergent – an umbrella term for people with Autism, ADHD, and other sensory-processing conditions.

Shopping centres are filled with people talking, children playing and yelling, radio music, scanner and beeping noises, and bright lights – that’s a lot of stimulation!

This can be overwhelming for people who don’t suffer from sensory-processing conditions, let alone for those who do.

With this in mind, several large retailers including, Coles, Kmart & Cotton On, have taken the initiative to implement “quiet shopping hours” to allow more accessibility for more customers to shop in a comfortable and safe environment.

What are quiet shopping hours?

Quiet shopping hours are a period of time set by a retailer, dedicated to providing a low sensory environment for shoppers who are or who have a family member or someone they care for with sensory processing difficulties. A quiet hour could include the following:

  • Switching automatic doors to ‘open’
  • Pausing trolley collection
  • Turning off the PA and music
  • Fixing flickering lighting
  • Reducing as much light as practicable
  • Removing scented reeds
  • Pausing automatic scent dispensers
  • Switching off hand dryers in bathrooms
  • Turning down or off the volume of checkout scanners

Why does reducing light and sound matter?

Sound and light hypersensitivity can be triggers in certain people’s accounts of how they struggle with everyday life. This extends to shopping due to the massive amounts of noise and light that occurs in shopping centres. The ability to single out sound sources and block out background noise can be a challenge for some, so by reducing sound altogether, shops can create a much more pleasurable and bearable experience, and thus a more inclusive space catering to different shopping experience preferences.

Can anyone attend quiet hour?

Yes, quiet hour is open to all members of the public. Although initially introduced to create a more inclusive space for shoppers with sensory issues, quiet hour is open for any shoppers who may not have a specific condition, but simply prefer a quieter retail environment.

Where can I attend quiet shopping hours?

A simple internet search can tell you where the closest stores near you offer quiet shopping hours, and what times they operate. Coles, Woolworths, Cotton On, Kmart and Westfield Shopping centers are among those retailers that have quiet shopping hour details listed on their websites.

We have included a handy list of some retailers providing this option at the end of this blog.

Why are quiet shopping hours important?

People who struggle with processing sensory information, can react very differently to the world around them. These people take in more sounds and light stimulation at any given moment as compared with people who don’t. This means that they are more likely to become overwhelmed by loud, sudden or continuous noises and bright, stark lighting. This can be explained as sound and sensory hypersensitivity make it so “the ability to single out sound sources and block out background noise” is very difficult, and “is a major point of difference between neurotypicals and neurodivergents”. (Fuente, E. de la and Walsh, M.J. (2022). ‘A kind of meditative peace’: quiet hour shopping makes us wonder why our cities have to be so noisy – The Conversation).

Everybody has to shop for groceries and essentials so by setting aside a specific time each week to minimise noise and other sources of sensory overload means the shopping can be more inclusive and accessible – for all different kinds of minds, bodies and styles of sensory processing.

Here at Help at Hand Support, we pride ourselves on understanding the intricacies and complexities of each client and their specific requirements. This allows us to help each client to the highest standard by understanding how something like a quiet shopping hour can help improve upon the experience of buying groceries. Increasing community access in a safe and pleasurable way is a large part of improving clients’ overall experience within society. To find out more information, feel free to contact us to see how we can help!

Useful links:

Last Updated: February 20th, 2024|

Have questions or feedback?

If you would like to speak with someone from the Help at Hand Support team about your individual situation call us on 1300 822 190 or leave your details here and we will contact you.

If you would like to suggest new blog topics please send us an email.

Why choose us?

  • Professional and prompt service

  • Tailored solutions for you

  • Person centred approach

  • Supportive and caring staff

Book A Care Consult

We will be in contact with you shortly