Asda to introduce a quiet hour to help autistic customers

An Asda store in Manchester is set to introduce a ‘quiet hour’ in order to help autistic and disabled customers do their shopping in less stressful conditions.
People with certain mental health conditions, which means they find noise and disturbances to be stressful or intimidating, are the aimed beneficiaries of the initiative, which will take place at Asda Living’s Cheetham Hill store.
The scheme will start on 7 May and will occur each Saturday from 8am to 9am, and will see a range of possible electronic distractions not being used. This includes things such as escalators, public address systems, music and TVs on display.
The initiative was the idea of the store manager Simon Lea, who witnessed a young boy with autism struggling to cope before in the busy store. Mr Lea, 39, helped calm the boy down by giving a football to him, but had the realisation that his store needed to do more to meet the needs of people who experience similar difficulties when shopping. Together with co-worker Karen Dennison, he made it happen.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Mr Lea said: “When we open the doors you will be able to hear a pin drop. That’s the plan.”
“I suffered for many years with anxiety and I used to absolutely hate going into busy stores. If we can make a few small changes to give these customers a better shopping experience and make them comfortable, then I know the store will be a better place to shop for everyone,” he continued.
Asda will review feedback it obtains during the trial before deciding whether to roll out the scheme to more stores.