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Walmart Canada Commits to Sensory-Friendly Store Hours

The retailer is reducing visual and auditory stimuli for the benefit of shoppers with sensitivities.
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walmart canada sensory friendly

Walmart Canada has designated sensory-friendly hours in all 403 of its stores to make shopping more inclusive for all customers.

The goal is to offer a calmer environment by eliminating or reducing potential sensory stimuli — including sounds, music, radio advertisements and announcements or paging, except in emergency cases — for shoppers who experience sensitivities. Also, static, low-sensory images will be used on TV walls. 

"This is such an important step we're taking to create a more inviting and positive shopping experience for customers who experience sensory overload and their families," Joe Schrauder, head of store operations at Walmart Canada, said in a media release "We want our stores to be a place where all customers and associates feel they belong."

Approximately 33% of people experience sensory sensitivity or overload, due to a disability, disorder or difference in sensory processing, according to Sensory Friendly Solutions, an advocacy group that works with businesses. This means visual and auditory stimuli can be too intense to process, which can cause discomfort or frustration for customers as they shop.

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"Sensory sensitivity and sensory overload are more common than you think,” Christel Seeberger, founder and CEO of Sensory Friendly Solutions, said in the release. “It can be experienced by your family, your friends, your co-workers, your customers and maybe even you. 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.”

Walmart Canada locations are offering sensory-friendly shopping hours from store opening until 10 a.m. local time every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, where possible.

In November, Walmart added sensory-free shopping times daily from 8-10 a.m. local time at all U.S. and Puerto Rico locations.

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