Allow me to put in a free plug for Sainsbury's (a fine chain of grocery stores, which I patronize regularly when in England). What a fantastic idea they just had:
Shopping isn't necessarily the most relaxing experience. But one UK supermarket will be slowing down the pace for two hours each day to help elderly customers and people with disabilities.
Sainsbury’s in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, is trialling a new concept called 'slow shopping', tailored to accommodate the needs of these two populations.
Slow shopping will be run at the store every Tuesday from 1pm to 3pm. People using the service will be greeted at the store's entrance, where a Sainsbury's employee can help them with their shopping.
Chairs will also be placed at the end of aisles to help people who struggle to stand for the duration of their shopping trip. The store's help desks will also be serving samples of cakes, biscuits and fruit to shoppers.
The idea was spearheaded by local resident Katherine Vero, who found it challenging to go shopping with her mother, who had dementia. After her mother passed away, Vero was inspired to create a slow-shopping service.
“My mum used to love shopping, but as her dementia developed it became increasingly difficult and stressful for us both," said Vero in a statement.
"But I didn’t want her to stop going out and become isolated. I wondered if there was a way to help us enjoy shopping."
According to research carried out by Alzheimer’s Society, 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia and 80 percent of people with the condition say shopping is their favourite activity.
The experience of deputy store manager Scott McMahon of helping his elderly parent while shopping opened him up to the approach by Vero.
"When my father developed cancer, I saw how hard he found shopping, yet he still wanted to go to maintain his independence, so when Katherine approached me about trialling slow shopping, I was keen to help," he said in a statement.
Sainsbury's isn't the only store to adapt to its customers' needs. Earlier this year, a supermarket in Manchester launched a 'quiet hour' for autistic shoppers.
With the slow-shopping trial in full swing, Vero is hoping the service will be rolled out to stores nationwide.
I also regularly visit the main grocery store in Smiths Falls in the summer (part of the Loblaws chain), and they \have a sign near the main entrance reminding customers with special needs that they can always ask for assistance doing their shopping. I'm sure other stores have similar policies, whether they advertise this or not. But having dedicated "quiet" or "slow" shopping hours is a giant step forward.