As The Entertainer stores re-open in England and Wales, dedicated Quiet Hours will aid shoppers seeking a quieter shopping experience.
Today, lockdown restrictions for retailers have been lifted, with additional safety measures in place. Whilst many will be keen to return to the shops and enjoy the buzz, others find the increased number of people, sounds and lights overwhelming and stressful.
To make the return to shops accessible for everyone, The Entertainer has extended its Quiet Hours to take place throughout the first week of opening, from 12 th-17th April, in over 150 stores across England and Wales. The initiative aims to create a calmer shopping environment for autistic people as well as any shoppers who may find the return to the high street a stressful experience.
Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of The Entertainer, said: “In our ongoing commitment to making our stores accessible to all, our Quiet Hours will be returning throughout the first week of reponing. This is to show our continued support for our autistic customers and their families and for those who find the retail environment more challenging, particularly in a time of so much change.”
Research from the National Autistic Society found that 64% of autistic people and their carers avoid the shops all together and that, sadly, over a quarter (28%) have been asked to leave a public space for reasons associated to their autism.
“We are very pleased to hear that the Entertainer is continuing to provide quiet hours for its customers,” commented Tom Purser, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society. “It’s incredibly committed to meeting the needs of its shoppers and leads the way for other retailers. Autistic people represent a huge part of our society – around 1 in 100 people in the UK. They and their families want to 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.”
All stores will be turning off store music and dimming the lights for the first hour of trading each day, and store teams have access to training to help them support customers should they become overwhelmed in store.
Tom added: “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.”
Meanwhile, in all Entertainer stores, Safety Superheroes will be helping families navigate government guidelines regarding being safe. They willll be supported by sidekicks 2M (who will provide tips on keeping 2m apart from others), Squeaky (an expert on hand sanitising) and Mighty Mask, (who encourages wearing a face covering).
The Quiet Hours will be in operation for the first hour of opening at each reopened store throughout week commencing 12th April and will then continue every Saturday morning, in-line with current operations.Store opening times may vary, and can be checked here.
To find out more about the National Autistic Society, visit: www.autism.org.uk.