Thanks to crowded aisles and hard-to-reach items, grocery shopping can be a bit daunting for older shoppers and those with disabilities. To put the joy back into shopping, a UK supermarket is setting aside special hours during which it can lend a hand to those who need it.
A Sainsbury’s supermarket location in Gosforth, England is piloting a program called “Slow Shopping,” the company announced Monday. Every Tuesday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., shoppers who need a little extra help will be able to pick up their groceries and other necessities with the assistance of store associates who will be at the ready. The store also says that it will have chairs set up for patrons who need to take a rest while perusing the aisles and will also offer a variety of free samples to be enjoyed.
The concept was first suggested by a local resident, Katherine Vero, whose late mother struggled with her weekly grocery store runs.
“My mum used to love shopping but as her dementia developed it became increasingly difficult and stressful for us both,” Vero said in a statement. “But I didn’t want her to stop going out and become isolated. I wondered if there was a way to help us enjoy shopping.”
Vero pitched the idea to the local supermarket and the store’s deputy manager, Scott McMahon, was happy to oblige. McMahon says he also saw the struggles his own father faced at the store after being diagnosed with cancer.
Slow Shopping will help customers maintain their sense of independence, Sainsbury’s hopes. Though they haven’t said whether or not the initiative might spread to other locations, the supermarket chain provides disability awareness training to their employees so they are better able to meet the needs of all their shoppers.
With a rapidly aging population worldwide, other countries are also taking measures to make sure older customers’ needs are taken into consideration. In Japan, for instance, many mini-marts are catering to seniors by providing ready-to-go hot meals that are already cut up and easy to eat, while also making sure other caregiving supplies are readily available.