, ,

Cork city shopping to become sensory-friendly on Sunday mornings

Some of the biggest retail names in Cork City centre have united to provide a sensory-friendly shopping hour.

The stores have all agreed to turn off their in-store music, dim the lights, switch off the till noises, and suspend shelf stacking to provide a quiet, calm and stress-free shopping environment for their first hour of trade every Sunday morning.

Their staff have also received specific customer service training to help meet the needs of those who decide to shop during the quiet hour.

The Cork Business Association (CBA), which is supporting the initiative, said while mainly aimed at those with autism, Down syndrome, Alzheimers, epilepsy, dementia, and people with acquired brain injury, it can also provide a very pleasant shopping experience for many others.

CBA chief executive, Lawrence Owens, described it is a great step towards making the city more family-friendly and inclusive.

“The response from businesses has been really positive and our objective is to grow and expand the provision of sensory-friendly shopping throughout the city,” he said.

“It will be available for the first hour of trade in participating stores on Sunday mornings, and longer where they can. We will monitor it as it rolls out and expand and improve as we go.”

Marks & Spencer, which has pioneered the initiative in its city centre store for about three years, has now been joined by other big retail names including Debenhams, Brown Thomas, Merchants Quay Shopping Centre, Penneys, Vibes & Scribes, Fitzgeralds Menswear, Casey’s Furniture and Diana O’Mahony Jewellers. Participating stores on Opera Lane include H&M, Topshop, Sketchers, and SpecSavers.

M&S general manager, Ray O’Callaghan, said their calm hour has become very important for some of their customers.

The CBA has encouraged other businesses to get involved, and will arrange free training for retail staff.

Read full article