For many visually and hearing-impaired people a simple trip to the supermarket can be a stressful experience. A lack of natural light, too many crowds and loud background noise may deter people from making essential trips.
Thankfully, UK supermarkets are now making changes to ensure the shopping experience is more pleasant for everyone. There are also more alternatives available now for those who prefer not to venture out.
In 2016, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s introduced “slow shopping”. Between 1pm and 3pm on Tuesdays, staff members are on hand to greet elderly and vulnerable customers, while chairs are placed at the end of aisles if shoppers need a rest.
This slow shopping initiative has since been introduced to other stores across the UK, including Southgate Shopping Centre, Waitrose Bath, Asda Clacton-on-Sea, and Tesco and Marks and Spencer Kingston Park.
In July 2018, supermarket chain Morrisons also launched a Quieter Hour between 9am and 10am on Saturday mornings. During this time they have pledged to dim the lights, turn off all music and radios, avoid in-store announcements, reduce check-out noises, lessen trolley movement and inform customers that it is Quieter Hour.
Earlier this year, Gatwick Airport and Sainsbury’s trialed a new initiative whereby customers can collect a lanyard from the customer services desk to wear around the airport or shop. This is a discreet way of letting staff know that the customer has a hidden disability (such as a sight/hearing impairment) and that they might need extra assistance. So far, the initiative has been well received and we’re hoping that other retailers and venues will take it up soon. Click here for more information.
Alternatives to supermarket shopping
Online shopping has increased considerably in recent years, almost doubling between 2010 and 2016. You can choose from ordering groceries for delivery from the big supermarkets or go for the click-and-collect option. For other shopping, such as gifts, clothes or household items, many online retailers now have just a small delivery charge or even free delivery over a certain spend. Other initiatives such as Amazon Prime provide next day delivery for a yearly or monthly charge, seven days a week.