The Lidl Poland chain has introduced quiet hours in all of its stores in Poland in order to cater to the needs of people with autism spectrum disorders as well as their families and caretakers. The initiative was launched in collaboration with the JiM Foundation, and it was primarily intended to make shopping easier to customers with ASD (autism spectrum disorder).
Autism is currently diagnosed in Poland in 1 in every 100 children, which means that there are 400,000 people with autism in our country. However, the autism spectrum also has an impact on the families, siblings and caretakers of such persons, whose everyday duties, including shopping, can present a significant challenge. To make it easier for people with the autism spectrum to function in everyday life, Lidl Poland has introduced “quiet hours” in all of its stores. The primary objective of the initiative, which was something the chain has worked on for a long time, is to ensure suitable conditions for everyday functioning of people with the autism spectrum. According to a survey report prepared by the JiM Foundation, most people with ASD perceive shopping as an unpleasant experience, with the most distressing factors being noise, intense light and queues.
„On the 2nd of April, we celebrate the World Autism Awareness Day – this is the perfect opportunity to discuss autism and show our solidarity with people suffering from the spectrum as well as their friends and families. It is very important to us that large chain stores, such as Lidl Poland, introduce suitable measures at their stores for convenience of people with the autism spectrum. The ‘quiet hours’ are introduced for people with ASD, for whom noise or crowding, or even just walking into the store, are particularly stressful because there are no technical measures that would accommodate their needs.” – says Tomasz Michałowicz, President of the JiM Foundation.
What measures will be introduced by the Lidl initiative? Music and messages in the public address system will be turned down at the designated times. Customers who declare they are suffering from the autism spectrum will be served out of turn at so-called priority cash registers (the priority cash register is usually the first cash register). The chain also requests all of its customers to show understanding and patience to the persons entitled to use the priority cash registers. The quiet hours in Lidl take place every Friday from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM and on Saturday from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.
* Due to the current epidemics, the priority cash registers can also be used by senior citizens, volunteers who assist senior citizens with grocery shopping, healthcare personnel, primarily doctors and nurses, paramedics and so-called uniformed services (firemen, policemen, soldiers of the territorial defence force or municipal policemen – representatives of these services assist senior citizens and families under quarantine).
„At Lidl Poland, we put people first. We keep doing our best to make sure that everyone can feel comfortable in our store and shop without any problems. Since our brand is present in various locations all over Poland, we can get to know the various needs of our customers, which is why we decided to launch the ‘quiet hours’ initiative – to most of us, this change is barely perceptible, but it can make everyday shopping much easier to some of our customers.” – summarises Aleksander Robaszkiewicz, Head of Corporate Communications, Lidl Poland.
The quiet hours at Lidl will be observed indefinitely at all Lidl stores, on every Friday from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM and on Saturdays from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.