To make the return to the shops accessible for everyone, The Entertainer, the fastest-growing family owned high street toy retailer in the UK has extended its Quiet Hours to take place throughout the first week of opening 12 -17 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.
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.
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.
Tom Purser, Head of Campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: “We are very pleased to hear that the Entertainer is continuing to provide quiet hours for its customers. 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.
“The smallest changes can help open up the high street for autistic people. Things like staff finding out a bit more about autism and making simple adjustments like turning down music or dimming the lights.
“As coronavirus restrictions ease, it’s more important than ever for retailers to consider autistic people and make sure they aren’t left stranded.”
Gary Grant, Founder and Executive Chairman of The Entertainer, said: “Shopping and returning into busy areas can be challenging for those who find the hustle and bustle, lighting and noise uncomfortable. So, in our ongoing commitment to making our stores accessible to all, our Quiet Hours will be returning throughout the first week of reponing. For the first hour of opening each day we will switch off the music, dim the lights wherever possible and aim to make our stores feel calmer. 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.
The Quiet Hours will be in operation for the first hour of opening at each reopened store throughout 12-17 April and will continue every Saturday morning from there, in-line with current operations.