A Sainsbury’s store in Gosforth, Newcastle, is trialling a new ‘slow shopping’ experience to help the elderly and vulnerable with their shopping.
During the sessions, staff are on hand to help, and there are seats and help desks around. There are also tasters of fruit and cake for shoppers to try, and crucially, no stress to be quick in decisions and moving around the store. Staff will also help shoppers to pack their purchases into bags.
Katherine Vero, a regular at the store, campaigned for the slow shopping sessions after her mother suffered from dementia.
She said: “My mum used to love shopping, but as her dementia developed it became increasingly difficult and stressful for us both. When she passed away I wanted to make the experience better for other people.”
“I was delighted when Sainsbury’s agreed to help me trial it,” she added. “I hope other retailers will follow.”
The two-hour sessions on Tuesday afternoons have also proved popular with other vulnerable adults.
Lesley Howson is one of those who has taken to the idea, saying that her autism means that she needs longer to complete her shopping.
“I like coming here because the staff are nice”, she said. “They’re very understanding and you can take your time.”
Scot McMahon is the Deputy Manager of the Gosforth store, and he said he was keen to help when Katherine approached him about trialling slow shopping.
He said, “When my father developed cancer I saw how hard he found shopping yet he still wanted to go to maintain his independence.
“I knew Sainsbury’s would want to support slow shopping. We invest a lot of time in training colleagues in how to help customers with disabilities; so we were well placed to go the extra step of putting out chairs and manning help points, but it’s our colleagues who really make the difference.”
Over the past year Sainsbury’s has invested over 50,000 hours in training store colleagues how to help customers with visible disabilities and non-visible disabilities like autism.