Toy store The Entertainer extends its autism-friendly Quiet Hour in all of its 171 UK stores
A toy shop with a store in Norfolk Street, Lynn, is making the first hour of each day a designated 'Quiet Hour' in every one of its shops, to help those who need a calmer shopping experience.
The Entertainer said, whilst it is delighted that stores and high streets are thriving once again with the lifting of lockdown restrictions, it is aware that some customers can find the large numbers of people, bright lights and sounds overwhelming and stressful.
The family-owned retailer has taken the decision to extend its popular Quiet Hour to now run every day in each one of its 171 stores up and down the country.
The initiative aims to create a quieter, calmer shopping environment for autistic people and their families and any other shoppers who find the hustle and bustle of shopping in the aisles an often 'uncomfortable experience'.
Quiet Hour has previously been held by branches only on Saturdays and on select dates during school holidays, but now it will operate during the first trading hour of opening in every shop.
The Entertainer, which has an Autism Friendly Award from the National Autistic Society for its commitment to supporting autistic customers and their families, will stop music playing, dim lights where it is possible and attempt to create an environment that is much calmer for shoppers.
Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of The Entertainer, said: “We are extremely proud of our Quiet Hour and the difference this has made to so many people across the country and we are delighted to now take our commitment to supporting our autistic customers and their families a step further.
"By extending our Quiet Hours to run every day, we hope this will offer greater flexibility to our autistic customers and enable them to shop with us with confidence on the days that work best for them."
The National Autistic Society says around one in 100 people live with some form of autism. It welcomes the change and says it will hugely benefit those who can find shopping an often difficult experience.
Tom Purser, head of campaigns, explained: “We are very pleased to hear that The Entertainer is extending it’s Quiet Hour. They are really showing their commitment to autistic shoppers and leading the way for other retailers.
"It’s important that autistic children, adults and their families have the opportunity to go to the shops, just like anyone else. But many find the crowds, noise and unpredictability of our high streets completely overwhelming and end up avoiding them altogether. The smallest changes can help open up the high street for autistic people.
“As coronavirus restrictions ease, it’s more important than ever for retailers to consider autistic people and make sure they aren’t left stranded and unable to return to shops along with everyone else.”
More information is available from the National Autistic Society’s website here.