Penneys to introduce autism-friendly shopping in Ireland
Great news for Penneys fans.
Penneys is to introduce autism-friendly shopping, including sensory-friendly shopping hours, to its 36 stores this month.
Every Sunday from November 14, people with autism and their friends and family can visit Penneys during the Sensory Friendly Shopping Hour, during the first hour of opening.
These new autism-friendly measures will include noise reduction across the store, such as silencing tills and in-store announcements, and turning off in-store music.
Additional assistance from in-store 'Champions', who have received specialised training from AsIAm whom the retailer has partnered with, will also be on offer.
The retailer has also created special digital support materials to ensure that shopping is more accessible for for those who need it outside of the Sensory Friendly Shopping Hour. These can be accessed on the Penneys website.
Through visual and audio aids, customers can prepare themselves for the sights and sounds they may experience in store that can cause sensory overload. Customers will also be able to access these supports through QR codes placed in-store.
Damien O’Neill, Head of Sales at Penneys, said: “Penneys is for everyone, we want everyone to feel welcome in our stores and we understand that for some customers we need to adapt the way we work to provide a better experience.
"This is just one of the ways we’re doing that and we’ve learnt a lot through AsIAm about how making some small changes can have a big impact.
“We are really looking forward to continuing our work with AsIAm as we work to raise awareness and understanding of autism among our colleagues and in our stores."
Over the past few months, AsIAm conducted audits of Penneys stores and highlighted areas of high sensory input. They also provided list of recommendations to support people with autism during all trading hours.
Adam Harris, Founder and CEO, AsIAm, said: "Shopping and the retail environment can be an incredibly overwhelming experience for autistic people and their families, due to crowded environments and the sensory overload from noises. We are delighted in AsIAm to have partnered with Penneys to make shopping more accessible for our community.
"Outside of the weekly sensory friendly shopping hour, we wanted to ensure that meaningful accommodations were in place all of the time that will enable an autistic person or their family to comfortably navigate the shopping environment, as well as training all Penneys staff in understanding autism.
"We are very excited to start this journey and to continue to work together in our commitment to making shopping as inclusive as possible."