Retail giant Penneys will be teaming up with AsIAm, Ireland’s national autism charity, to introduce a new, more inclusive experience for autistic shoppers.
Starting on November 14, every Sunday the first opening hour will be a sensory-friendly shopping hour for autistic shoppers and those close to them, secure in the knowledge that several measures are in place to ensure a calmer and more inclusive shopping experience.
These measures include noise reduction throughout the store, such as silencing tills and in-store announcements and switching off in-store music, while also enabling additional assistance and support from dedicated in-store Champions, who have received specialised training from AsIAm.
Penneys have also created special digital supports on their website to ensure that shopping is still accessible for autistic people outside of the sensory friendly shopping hour. The new digital support allows customers to prepare for the sights and sounds they may experience while in-store that may cause sensory overload.
They have also provided a store map and visual guide, called ‘My Trip to Penneys’ to help prepare for the visit and help identify how to navigate through the store when they arrive. A series of QR codes have also been placed throughout the shop for easy access to these materials.
Talking about the new AsIAm initiative, Damien O’Neill, Head of Sales and Penneys mentions:
“Penneys is for everyone, we want everyone to feel welcome in our stores and we understand that for some customers we need to adapt the way we work to provide a better experience. This is just one of the ways we’re doing that and we’ve learnt a lot through AsIAm about how making some small changes can have a big impact.
We are really looking forward to continuing our work with AsIAm as we work to raise awareness and understanding of autism among our colleagues and in our stores.”