Shopping as an autistic person can be a struggle, and I’m sure you all know that one shop where it’s all just a bit too overwhelming! The bright lights, loud music and claustrophobic aisles all make online shopping a desirable alternative.
Why can shopping be difficult if you are autistic?
Sensory wise, shopping can attack all senses – smells, sounds, sight, even touch. For autistic adults and children those senses can be heightened. If that is the case, then this will make interacting with shopping assistants and decision making difficult.
Already being stressed and overloaded with the thought of going into or being in a shop can then make remembering the right things to buy difficult (hence why no. 5 in the tips below is helpful).
7 ways a shop can be more autism friendly
- Space to shop: Wider aisles that are free of obstructions can help make shopping for autistic customers a lot easier. It means you don’t have to bump into people, and it is also helpful for those with mobility aids.
- Lower shelves: Lower shelves means that not only are the items easier to reach, the shop won’t feel so claustrophobic and overwhelming.
- No music and dimmer lighting: This means you will be able to focus on shopping and not on the imminent sensory overload from auditory or visual stimuli.
- Limiting the amount of customers: Although it has become semi-normal in Covid times to limit the amount of people in the shops, it could also be helpful in the long run – it makes for a less overwhelming shopping trip, and you won’t have to worry about bumping into others.
- Less choice: Instead of 7 versions of what is likely the same tomato sauce, having 1 or 2 choices makes life easier when shopping, as you won’t have to spend 20 minutes deciding which one to get and by that time you won’t want to spend any more time in the shop!
- Clear layout: Signs that are easy to read or knowing where the exits are are some of the ways that will make shopping easier for everyone whether or not you need extra support when shopping.
- Understanding staff: Staff that know about hidden disabilities will make shopping easier because they know that some customers need extra support. The Hidden Disability scheme uses the sunflower lanyard and provides training for shop staff. More info here: The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower (hiddendisabilitiesstore.com)
We know that you can’t have the perfect shop, however, the above are some tips that may make autistic shopping much easier and accessible.
What are your tips and experiences with accessible shopping?
Your Village Shop is a community shop based in Stoke Gifford Retirement Village. Designed with accessibility in mind, with wider aisles, lower shelving, no background music and easy to navigate store layout.
Our team are well known for being welcoming and friendly. We go out of our way to provide extra help to our customers and are accessible for wheelchairs. We aim to be an autism and dementia friendly shop.