Walmart will offer “sensory-friendly” hours for customers with sensory disabilities on designated days throughout the back-to-school shopping season.
Every Saturday for the rest of July and all of August, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. local time, most Walmart stores will feature a quieter shopping environment, with store lights dimmed, music turned off and any screens with moving pictures switched over to a stationary image. For areas where school starts after Labor Day, sensory-friendly hours will begin July 22.
“For many of us, back-to-school shopping was an exciting rite of passage each year, but kiddos on the spectrum can miss out on the everyday experiences that end up being fond lifelong memories because those excursions can be of more burden than benefit,” said Christopher Barnett, CEO of the behavioral healthcare organization ABA Centers in comments shared with Retail TouchPoints, who noted that more than 2 million children in the U.S. are currently classified as being on the autism spectrum.
“By reducing sensory overload and stress, this initiative enables children to engage more fully in the shopping experience and even helps them to prepare for the major milestone of starting a new school year, while also providing support and respite for their families,” Barnett added.
Walmart has a few other new tricks up its sleeve for BTS season, including:
- A new Classroom Registry on Walmart.com and the Walmart app to assist educators in reducing their expenses for classroom supplies, allowing them to easily plan, shop and share classroom wish lists; and
- A new integration with Spark Good Registry and Round Up that will allow public and private schools to create a nonprofit account and begin receiving tax-deductible donations. Customers can then support the needs of their local school by rounding up their purchase total and donating the change at checkout, or by purchasing items on a school’s Spark Good Registry.