Coles’ ‘quiet hour’ will reduce noise for customers with an aversion to sound.
- A study found that 74 percent of people with an autism spectrum disorder responded differently to sensation
- Coles new ‘quiet hour’ has been rolled out across Australia from 6pm to 7pm on Monday to Friday at all supermarkets
- The reduced-volume shopping experience is available five days a week to assist those with sensory processing difficulties
To accommodate people living with sensory processing or overload in Australia, Coles Group has expanded its ‘quiet hour’ — from 6pm to 7pm — to five days a week, at a time that suits parents and working customers, in addition to those with disability.
Customers will notice that the Coles Radio is turned down to the lowest volume, with reduced register and scanner volume and team members avoid the use of the speaker system, except for in emergencies.
Not only is Coles expanding its popular ‘quiet hour’ to support the one in 70 Australians who are on the autism spectrum, but has also meaningfully increased representation in the workforce, with 7.6 percent of team members identifying as having a disability.
Coles Head of Diversity and Inclusion Katie Wyatt said Coles is committed to meeting the diverse needs of customers, ensuring everyone feels welcomed, valued and comfortable throughout their shopping experience.
“At Coles, we are always looking for new ways to serve our customers with disabilities and their carers and we are privileged to have many active voices of people with disability in our feedback channels,” Katie said.
“Up to 70 percent of autistic people experience sensitivity to sounds, with autistic adults reporting that these symptoms worsen with stress and anxiety, therefore, ‘quiet hour’ promotes increased opportunity and enhances the shopping experience for thousands of customers.”
Coles also joined forces with Amaze, a not-for-profit autism organisation in 2021. Since then, Amaze and Coles have worked together on many initiatives to support the needs of people with autism and their families — with some even providing their input on how to improve accessibility for customers.
Amaze Chief Executive Officer Jim Mullan said that the organisation has only grown stronger and more successful, with the company making strides to embrace and represent people with autism.
“The expansion of their low-sensory shopping experience is just another example of the many steps that [Coles Group] have taken over the years to understand and purposefully meet the needs of not only their autistic customers but also their autistic employees.
“Amaze’s vision is an autism inclusive Australia and we’re proud to have partners like Coles who share that same aspiration.”
Coles Group has also continued to make waves with its mobile app, which has been routinely updated to improve accessibility and ease of use, winning awards for its progress to support a diverse range of customers.
“Our award-winning app keeps getting better for customers and particularly those using accessibility software and aids to use it. The team consider accessibility in every step of our design process which is why it has been so well received,” Katie said.
Coles was the first supermarket to introduce Quiet Hour in 2017. Select stores continue to reduce noise and lighting on Tuesdays from 10:30am – 11:30am.
Do you think that you’ll be shopping during quieter times from now on? Let the team at Talking Disability know your supermarket horror stories or ideas for improvement!