Silent Supermarkets in Zurich: Creating a Calm and Sensory-Friendly Shopping Experience for People with Autism

2023-06-29 04:33:06

After the SBB silent wagons, a new concept is emerging in Zurich: silent supermarkets. Several stores in the canton offer quiet time slots where the light and volume of announcements, in particular, is reduced. This measure is primarily intended for people with autism.

Usually, supermarkets are saturated with noise and visual pollution. For people with autism, this can be a real nightmare because they often have heightened sensitivity.

“It’s just chaos. Lots of noise, light, flickering. It’s too many stimuli at once. It’s very tiring,” an autistic client told RTS at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Dim lighting, cut billboards

The Zurich subsidiaries of the German-speaking supermarket chain Spar have therefore decided to adapt to this hypersensitivity: twice a week for two so-called “quiet” hours, the lights are dimmed, the music and the screens broadcasting commercials are cut and the volume of the cash registers is lowered.

The brand’s staff pays particular attention to customers. “We make families with children aware that we are in ‘quiet hours'”, explains Petra Pajalic, assistant in one of the stores.

With these precautions, the autistic client met by the RTS was able to embark on this maze of displays with her assistance dog, present to reassure her, and her list of commissions well glued to the trolley.

One more exception

If in French-speaking Switzerland several stores say they are currently thinking about implementing this concept, only the Spar brand offers these “quiet hours” in Switzerland for the moment, which defenders of autistic people deplore.

“Some of them cannot shop. They cannot enter the store. They do not dare to enter the aisles when the staff fill the shelves. life like everyone else”, judge Regula Buehler, director of the association Autism Switzerland German.

These off-peak hours are also not exclusively reserved for people with autism. All customers looking for calm can benefit from it.

TV Subject: Julien Guillaume
Adaptation web: Tristan Hertig

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