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Silence, please: Why a UK supermarket is introducing a special quiet hour

Shopping on the spot.
Shopping on the spot.
Image: Reuters/Neil Hall
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One of Britain’s largest supermarket chains has introduced a weekly quiet hour for customers who struggle with the noise associated with grocery shopping, like those on the autism spectrum.

Every Saturday morning from 9 to 10, each of Morrisons’ nearly 500 stores will dim the lights and shut off music. They’ll also try and deaden the cacophony of sounds that pervade supermarkets across the world—checkout beeps and the clangs of carts and baskets will be minimized as much as possible, and public-address announcements will be eliminated.

Morrisons says the initiative was created with the support of the country’s National Autistic Society. Many people on the autism spectrum have issues with the processing of everyday sensory information. They can find shopping in a busy and loud supermarket stressful.

Around 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the UK. Grocery behemoth Tesco has conducted a six-week quiet hour trial, and many businesses across the UK had a one-off awareness-raising quiet hour in October. Morrisons is the first chain to roll out a weekly initiative in all of its stores.