The family-owned high street toy retailer, The Entertainer, has extended its Quiet Hour initiative to run every day in every one of its 171 stores across the country, in a bid to create a calmer shopping environment for autistic people and shoppers uncomfortable with the hustle and bustle of the shopping experience.
The move has been made as the UK high street begins to pick up once again, following the lifting of restrictions and increase of footfall among high street retailers. While a sure sign of a high street revival for many concerned over the impact of the pandemic and the various national lockdowns, there are a number of people for whom busy shops, lights, and sound make for a stressful experience.
Having previously run its Quiet Hour initiative on Saturdays and during the school holidays, The Entertainer is now extended the concept to run every morning for the first hour of opening.
The Entertainer has also been awarded an Autism Friendly Award by the National Autistic Society for its commitment to supporting its autistic customers and their families, including providing additional staff training to help store teams to support customers who may be overwhelmed by shopping in busy stores.
Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of The Entertainer, said: “We are extremely proud of our Quiet Hour and the difference this has made to so many people across the country and we are delighted to now take our commitment to supporting our autistic customers and their families a step further.
“By extending our Quiet Hours to run every day, we hope this will offer greater flexibility to our autistic customers and enable them to shop with us with confidence on the days that work best for them. During our Quiet Hour, there will be no music playing, our lights will be dimmed wherever possible, and our stores will be made to feel calmer.
“To be awarded the Autism Friendly Award by the National Autistic Society in addition to this is another extremely proud moment for The Entertainer. We will continue to work hard to make our stores a welcoming environment for everyone to enjoy.”
Tom Purser, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society, added: “We are very pleased to hear that the Entertainer is extending it’s quiet hours. They are really showing their commitment to autistic shoppers and leading the way for other retailers.
“Autistic people represent a huge part of our society – around one in 100 people in the UK. It’s important that autistic children, adults and their families have the opportunity to go to the shops, just like anyone else. But many find the crowds, noise and unpredictability of our high streets completely overwhelming and end up avoiding them altogether.
“The smallest changes can help open up the high street for autistic people. Things like staff finding out a bit more about autism and making simple adjustments, like turning down music or dimming the lights.
“As coronavirus restrictions ease, it’s more important than ever for retailers to consider autistic people and make sure they aren’t left stranded and unable to return to shops along with everyone else.”
To find out more about the National Autistic Society’s please visit: www.autism.org.uk