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UPDATE: Walmart Canada Joins U.S. Stores by Adding Sensory-Friendly Hours

Photo courtesy Walmart

[Update as of July 9, 2024] Walmart Canada will add sensory-friendly hours in all 400+ stores, reducing noise and moving images to improve the shopping experience for neurodivergent people and others that are oversensitive to stimuli. From opening until 10 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, stores will minimize sounds such as music or radio ads and use only static, low-sensory images on TV walls.

“Sensory sensitivity and sensory overload are more common than you think. It can be experienced by your family, your friend, your co-workers, your customer and maybe even you,” said Christel Seeberger, Founder and CEO of Sensory Friendly Solutions in a statement. “And as a person with lived experience, I know it can stop people from living everyday life. Sensory-friendly environments and experiences make everyday life more accessible, inclusive and invite more people to participate and belong. And that’s why change in a busy, noisy, bright world is needed.”

Original story from Nov. 7, 2023 begins-

A retail store can be an overwhelming experience for those on the autism spectrum, so beginning Nov. 10 Walmart will create a sensory-friendly environment for two hours per day, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., in all its U.S. and Puerto Rico stores.

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The program, which includes tuning display TVs to a static image, turning off the radio and lowering the lights where possible, debuted during the back-to-school season but will now continue indefinitely. Walmart said it received positive feedback from the initial program via face-to-face conversations, emails, listening sessions and social media.

“Several associates expressed the desire to continue this program all year,” said Tyler Morgan, a Walmart Store Manager in a statement. “We have associates with autism, ADHD, etc. in the store and one associate made the comment that this is the first time the company did something just for him. I know we could all use some calm during the stressful holiday season, so I hope this program can continue.”

“I have a child on the autism spectrum, so sensory overload is a lived experience in our house,” said Nuala O’Connor, SVP and Chief Counsel, Digital Citizenship at Walmart in a statement. “ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and other forms of neurodiversity are often an invisible disability. It is meaningful to so many families that Walmart is implementing sensory-friendly hours.”

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