Two more retailers are providing a sensory-friendly experience for customers who might otherwise find shopping too stressful. Coles supermarket in Australia and Lidl in Ireland are testing “quiet” times at a handful of stores to better serve autistic customers and their families. During “Quiet Hour” at the Coles’ stores, lights are dimmed by 50%, register and scanner volumes are turned down to the lowest level and staff avoid collecting carts. Similar adjustments are made at participating Lidl stores in Ireland during its two-hour “quiet evening.” Additionally, those with an Irish Autism Action ID are able to avoid lines and skip to the front of the checkout. Both retailers’ programs were developed in partnership with autism groups (Autism Spectrum Australia and Irish Autism Action) that also provided training to staff so they are better equipped to assist customers.
Without ever getting out of their cars, customers at a San Antonio, Tex., H-E-B store can pick up their pre-ordered groceries at the curb and also cruise through the grocer’s True Texas BBQ drive-thru to grab ready-to-eat fare like tacos and smoked meats. While H-E-B already operates barbecue restaurants at seven other of its outlets, this is the first drive-thru for the retailer.
SHINING A LIGHT ON DIVERSITY
An Edeka grocery store in Hamburg, Germany recently stripped its shelves of all foreign-made foods to make a serious point about the value of diversity. The stunt, which took place over one weekend, was part of campaign that includes a video (titled #Vielfalt) capturing shoppers’ reactions to largely empty shelves with only German foods available for purchase. “No coffee, no tea, no chocolate,” a staff member explains to surprised shoppers in the video, driving home the message that Germany would be a great deal poorer without variety—both in terms of food and in society. Edeka spokesperson Laura Röders-Arnold told Canadian Grocer the campaign had taken off on social media, triggering a great deal of public interest and discussion.
This article appeared in Canadian Grocer's October/November issue