Drake Circus retailers to support Sensory Hour

Drake Circus retailers to support Sensory Hour

Plymouth retailers are to introduce a regular adapted shopping event to support customers living with autism and dementia.

Businesses and shops in the South West's leading shopping centre Drake Circus are to follow National Autistic Society (NAS) Autism Hour guidelines and combine them with dementia-friendly shopping to create a regular Sensory Hour for shoppers.

Following on from the success of these adapted shopping events over the last few months, retailers, including River Island, JD Sports and Next, will dim lights and mute store music where possible to raise awareness and show support for those who live with autism and dementia. Participating stores will also brief their teams on the day, delivering key information on how to support those who live with the conditions.

On the first Saturday of every month, 9am -10am, Drake Circus will be adapting their stores to accommodate the Sensory Hour. These events can give more confidence to those affected and help remove some of the stresses associated with shopping.

Autism Hour was originally developed in response to research from NAS which has revealed that shopping can be a challenge for autistic people. "For autistic people, the world can seem full of too much information – and too little understanding. That’s why 64% of autistic people and their families avoid even going out to the shops. Shops can be too loud, glaringly bright and overwhelming for autistic people," says NAS.

As for Dementia, in December 2016, a study by the Alzheimer’s Society found 98% of people with dementia felt that shops were not good at supporting them during the Christmas period. Dementia affects 850,000 people across the UK (and is predicted to increase to 2 million by 2051) and there are well over 3,300 people in Plymouth with a diagnosis of dementia.

By implementing these small changes, retailers will be playing a part in helping provide a more supportive and enjoyable Christmas shopping experience for these customers.

Drake Circus Centre Director, Greg Lumley said: “We want shoppers at Drake Circus to have the freedom to visit the centre and enjoy the best customer experience possible, that’s why we’re delighted to introduce this regular sensory hour event.”

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