Tesco in Forres, Scotland is the first Scottish supermarket to offer a relaxed check out service. After a collaboration with Alzheimers Scotland and multiple customer contact sessions, the local store decided to pilot the relaxed check out on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. This is in an effort to be more inclusive to many members of the community who dislike the feeling of being pressured and rushed.
Keeping a calm tone promotes socialising for the older members of the community who can otherwise feel isolated. Many people enjoy chatting to their cashier as other social interactions may be limited, however this is inhibited by supermarket targets for items scanned per hour. It is also a blessing for those with limited mobility, as people who use mobility scooters or need mobility accessories like home stair lifts often need a little more time at check outs and can often feel pressured by both checkout staff and other customers. Tesco putting a slower lane in place shows they value customer experience as well as profits.
There is also less pressure for those who suffer with autism, anxiety and other disorders who struggle with situations where they may feel overwhelmed. By reducing the stress, it should make the shopping experience more pleasant for a range of individuals within the community.
Other stores, both in the USA and UK have trialled quiet hours, especially in the lead up to Christmas. JC Penney, an American department store, piloted a sensory friendly shopping experience directed at parents with autistic children. By reducing the lighting, turning off the music and halting tannoy announcements, they lessen the stimulation people experience in these specific quiet hours.
A similar experiment involved Toys R Us in the UK, where one Sunday morning in early December, they kept noise and lighting to a minimum while also creating quiet zones, in stark contrast to most Christmas shopping experiences. Though these examples appear to be few and far between, the increase in quiet hours and relaxed lanes shows a turning of tide to increased community inclusion, which in the future will hopefully be standard practice across many supermarkets and high street stores.
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