Business is quiet, and that’s a surplus of sanity

Ideas

Business is quiet, and that’s a surplus of sanity

A store is starting a ‘silent hour’, but, please tell me I’m not mad, isn’t this just an all-too-brief return to sanity?

I’m moving to New Zealand! Well, no, obviously I’m not moving to New Zealand – I haven’t entirely given up just yet, and I still think there are some things worth living for – but I might just go there from time to time to do my grocery shopping.

This week a Kiwi supermarket chain weirdly named Countdown (do the tills work in reverse? Do you register how much money you wish to spend, and the total ticks lower with every box of Wheaty-Puffs or jar of your favourite savoury yeast spread you add to your basket until you reach zero, which is coincidentally the same number of times as New Zealand has beaten us in World Cup finals?) announced it was introducing something called a “quiet hour” in its stores nationwide to improve the quality of the shopping experience for people with autism or anxiety issues.

Setting aside the question about what people in New Zealand might be anxious about – has Mrs McDougal’s cat Trampy gone missing again? Do they not have jandals in your size? – this sounds like the answer to my prayers. Every Wednesday between 2.30pm and 3.30pm – statistically the least anxious time of the week, although Tuesdays must also be quite nice – there will be an hour of reduced sensory stimulation in Countdowns all across the tiny, wet nation. According to a Guardian report this week, lighting will be dimmed, in-store radios turned off, trolley collection and shelf packing kept to a minimum and PA announcements will be restricted to emergency announcements. Is this a radical rejigging of practices and procedures. Or, please tell me I’m not mad, isn’t this just an all-too-brief return to sanity?..

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