UPDATE: Maryborough Coles goes quiet for one hour each week
AS OF Tuesday this week, Maryborough Coles will offer Quiet Hour to help those who struggle to shop in a heightened sensory environment.
Maryborough is one of 68 Coles supermarkets across Australia to offer Quiet Hour every Tuesday between 10.30am and 11.30am.
Within the hour, store lighting is dimmed by 50 per cent, the radio will be switched off, register and scanner volumes will be reduced, there will be no trolley collections or roll cages on the shop floor and no PA announcements.
Free fruit will be offered at customer service and additional team members will be available to support customers.
Quiet Hour comes after successful trials in two Victorian stores by Coles and Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) in August.
The trial aimed to support customers who are, or have family members, on the autism spectrum.
Store Support Manager of Coles Maryborough Jamie Petrunyszyn said the first attempt of Quiet Hour went "very smoothly".
"We had a lot of positive feedback and everyone really enjoyed it," he said.
"All the staff handled it beautifully and we think it will get better as it goes on."
Having worked in supermarkets for more than 20 years, Mr Petrunyszyn said the significant changes to the environment was "very different".
He said families had travelled from Hervey Bay to Maryborough to take advantage of Quiet Hour.
Coles Accessibility Sponsor Peter Sheean said it was important to have a geographic spread of stores participating in Quiet Hour.
He said Coles worked closely with Aspect to identify an additional 66 stores where residents were believed to benefit from the change.
"At Coles, we're always looking at ways we can meet the differing needs of our customers by creating a shopping environment in which our customers and team members feel comfortable," he said.
"We were really pleased to receive a positive response from our customers and team members who welcomed Quiet Hour and provided feedback on social media.
"It's fantastic to hear the changes we made in store during the trial had helped to make a real difference to our customers' shopping experience at Coles."
Aspect Community Engagement and Operations Manager Linzi Coyle said autism affected 1 in 100 Australians and the expansion of the low-sensory shopping experience would have a significant and positive impact.
"People on the autism spectrum often have difficulty processing sensory information and can find sounds, light, smell, touch and taste overwhelming," she said.
"For many individuals and families, a simple trip to the shop can be difficult."