In collaboration with the National Autistic Society, Selfridges Birmingham has launched a weekly quiet hour to help accommodate autistic shoppers and their families who struggle with loud music in stores.
The store says it hopes the move will help to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment.
Quiet Hour will take place every Thursday and will mean no music will be played from 9.30am until 11am, giving shoppers an hour and a half to enjoy the store in peace and quiet.
Sam Watts, General Manager at Selfridges Birmingham, says of the initiative: “We at Selfridges believe that everyone is welcome and by switching off the music for a short time, it will be a peaceful environment that people with sensory sensitivity will appreciate.
“It is our aim to be a fully inclusive store that provides a first-class customer experience for everyone. All in-store brands have been fantastically supportive of this weekly, autism-friendly event by agreeing to turn off their TVs and music systems, too.”
There are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. Though all autistic people have difficulties around communication and interaction, each individual will have different strengths and challenges.
Tom Purser, Head of Campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: “We are very pleased that Selfridges Birmingham is following our lead by introducing a regular Autism Hour to make shopping easier for autistic people and their families. Over 11,000 shops took part in our Autism Hour campaign last October, and it’s great to see that businesses across the country are recognising how important Autism Hours can be.
“We hear from autistic people and their families that shops and other public spaces can be challenging because of bright lights, strong smells and crowds or queues, causing them to feel overwhelmed. Our research shows that 64% of autistic people avoid shopping and 28% have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism.
“There are 700,000 autistic people in the UK and their needs aren’t always immediately obvious. We know a basic understanding and small changes like quiet hours could transform the lives of autistic people and their families, allowing them to take part in activities that many people take for granted. We hope that more shops will be inspired by the impact of our Autism Hour campaign and do their bit to facilitate autistic people and their families to have the same opportunities as everyone else.”
To find out more about our Autism Hour campaign, please visit: autism.org.uk/autismhour