Channel Islands Co-op trials neurodivergent-friendly shopping

The scheme, being tested at four stores, will be rolled out across the society if it proves successful

Channel Islands Coop is trialling measures at four of its stores to improve the shopping experience for neurodivergent customers.

Its Calmer Coop scheme will offer resources such as ear defenders and a ‘shopping support story’ – a visual support tool – from customer services desks at the Grand Marché stores in Millennium Town Park and St Peter’s Village, Jersey; and St Martin and St Sampson, Guernsey.

Other aids on offer include a to-do list and communication board.

If the scheme is a success, the society will roll the scheme out to all its stores on both islands.

In 2022, the society began dedicating a quiet shopping time every week for noise-sensitive customers, with dimmed lights, reduced till sounds and no music. Other co-op retailers, such as Central, have brought in similar measures.

Emma Veitch, interim head of retail operations, said: “I understand how stimulating it can be in certain environments and have spent a long time trying to make shopping a calmer experience for my own son who has autism and ADHD.

“From my own experience and with the advice from others within the neurodivergent community, CI Coop has introduced aids that we hope will create a calmer and more enjoyable experience.

Niamh McDermott, co-founder and assistant chair at AllMatters Neurodiverse Jersey, said: “There are so many barriers for our neurodivergent community when it comes to going to a supermarket, therefore it was lovely to see CI Coop embracing neurodiversity.

“We are delighted to work collaboratively with the co-op to support them on this journey. We hope other companies follow their example.”