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Walmart Canada launches 'sensory-friendly' hours across its stores

Retailer aims to create inclusive shopping experience for those who experience sensory overload
Jillian Morgan, female, digital editor for Canadian Grocer
Only static, low-sensory images will be used on TV walls during Walmart's "sensory-friendly" hours
Only static, low-sensory images will be used on TV walls during Walmart's "sensory-friendly" hours. Photography courtesy Walmart Canada

Walmart Canada is hoping to create a calmer shopping environment for Canadians that experience sensory sensitivity with its new “sensory-friendly” hours. 

All the retailer’s stores coast-to-coast will take steps to reduce visual and auditory stimuli from store opening until 10 a.m. local time every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

That includes minimal sounds, no music or radio advertisements and announcements and no paging except for emergencies. Only static, low-sensory images will be used on TV walls. 

"This is such an important step we're taking to create a more inviting and positive shopping experience for customers who experience sensory overload and their families," said Joe Schrauder, head of store operations, Walmart Canada, in a release. "We want our stores to be a place where all customers and associates feel they belong."

Around 33% of people experience sensory sensitivity or overload, with more than 25 diagnoses or differences contributing to it, according to Sensory Friendly Solutions. 

For some, visual and auditory stimuli can cause discomfort or frustration for customers as they shop.

"Sensory sensitivity and sensory overload are more common than you think. It can be experienced by your family, your friend, your co-workers, your customer and maybe even you," added Christel Seeberger, founder and CEO, Sensory Friendly Solutions. "And as a person with lived experience, I know it can stop people from living everyday life. Sensory-friendly environments and experiences make everyday life more accessible, inclusive and invite more people to participate and belong. And that's why change in a busy, noisy, bright world is needed."

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