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27th Jul 2017

Lidl introduce a new autism-friendly shopping initiative

The autism-friendly initiative is being trialled in Dublin, Westmeath and Monaghan.

Alison Bough

Supermarket chain Lidl have introduced ‘Autism Friendly Quiet Evenings’ at three of their Irish outlets.

Lidl have announced plans for a special autism-friendly initiative which could prove very beneficial for those on the spectrum in Dublin, Westmeath and Monaghan.

The evenings are initially being trialled across three stores in Dun Laoghaire, Westmeath and Monaghan after a staff member with personal experience of autism suggested that a few simple changes could positively enhance the shopping experience for many.

The supermarket chain say they are working in close consultation with Irish Autism Action to train and brief stores ahead of the evenings.

Deirdre Ryan, the brand’s head of corporate social responsibility, says they are hopeful that the option will benefit people who are struggling to manage tasks such as the weekly shop:

“Back in April, as part of an autism initiative’s Job Shadow Day we welcomed a lovely young boy called Conor to our Pottery Road store for half a day. Conor spent time with our store manager Aneta assisting her in ordering stock and packing out our fresh fruit and vegetables.

We had such a fantastic response to this, both from our own team and from customers, that when stores were asked to consider taking part in trialling special shopping evenings many of them jumped at the chance. We’ve been blown away by the positive feedback to date on the social media post to highlight the event and our teams are really looking forward to welcoming our very special shoppers over the coming weeks.”

Deirdre says the trial may lead to the evenings being rolled out at other store locations:

“Pending the learnings from the trials we will make a decision on introducing autism-friendly shopping evenings in more locations.”

The autism-friendly quiet evenings will be held every Tuesday in August between six and eight. Store environments will be altered to include dimmed lights, no announcements or music in stores and priority if there are queues at checkouts.

The stores taking part in the initial trial are: Lidl Pottery Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Lidl Patrick Street, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, and Lidl Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan.