Coles Extends Its Autism-Friendly ‘Quiet Hour’ To 103 New Stores Nation-Wide

Coles Extends Its Autism-Friendly ‘Quiet Hour’ To 103 New Stores Nation-Wide
Image: Getty

Once a week from 10:30 to 11:30am, the harsh fluorescent lights in 173 Coles stores across the country will dim, the blaring cheeriness of Coles Radio will be switched off, and more staff will be on hand to help at registers. This is Quiet Hour, a concept developed in conjunction with Autism Spectrum Australia to better accommodate customers with sensory issues, and it’s now being expanded to more than twice as many stores as were initially included.

For people with autism or other conditions that effect sensory processing, something as mundane as grocery shopping can be a challenging and difficult situation to navigate. The same goes for parents who are accompanied on shopping trips by autistic children, who struggle with similar issues.

Quiet Hour was first introduced late last year in 70 stores, and after overwhelming positive feedback the program is being extended to another 103 stores, with more planned to be added to the list soon.

Aside from the store lights and the lack of Coles Radio, other Quiet Hour amendments include the lowest volume being used on registers and scanners, a cease in trolley collection and roll cage transportation, no PA announcements, free fruit at the customer service desk and additional staff on hand.

Quiet Hour is, to the best of my knowledge, the first autism-friendly shopping experience of its kind, and it’s only surprising that more stores and chains haven’t jumped on board with similar initiatives. Around 1 in every 150 Australians are on the autism spectrum, and as many of 75 per cent of people with autism experience some difficulty with sensory processing.

You can see the full list of participating stores here.


  • So from the linked website
    Together with Aspect, Coles is creating a ‘no-judgement’ shopping space where people on the spectrum and their families can feel comfortable and welcome while they complete their daily shop.
    Do Coles realise that 1-hr per week does not equate to a daily shop.

    10:30 – 11:30 on Tuesdays must be a slow time in their normal sales, and EVERYBODY who either is on the spectrum or has a child on the spectrum is available at that time. If they were realsitic about it, they would schedule it for late afternoon/early evening or on the weekend

  • Having never thought about the need for something like this I’m impressed at Coles for trying something.
    Sure, get stuck into them for a non-perfect solution in your opinion, but at least they’re providing an option.
    Commend them for it and support it, then they might expand it – bash them over the head because it’s not perfect and they might give up.
    Heck, I’d consider going there myself during those times for the quiet when able – sounds like a great way to shop.

  • Wait so they know that bright fluros, obnoxious music and PA, and short staff make for a terrible shopping experience? Why don’t they just…not do those things? Why limit it to one hour a week?

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!