Home Bargains has introduced a weekly ‘quiet hour’ for shoppers with autism across all of its UK stores – including its three branches in the Portsmouth area.
This quiet shopping hour will take place every Saturday between 9am and 10am, and aims to enable customers with autism to shop in a calmer environment.
The company has stores at Portsmouth Retail Park in Binnacle Way, Southampton Road Retail Park in Park Gate, and at Wellington Retail Park in Waterlooville.
In order to create this tranquil shopping environment, music will be turned off and tannoys kept silent, except for urgent announcements.
This initiative was created alongside The National Autistic Society, which has advised on how to create the ideal environment for shoppers with autism.
Making the retail environment more therapeutic
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 five million weekly shoppers, whatever their situation.’
‘Public spaces can be challenging’
‘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,’ said Tom Purser, National Autistic Society’s head of campaigns.
‘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.”