Walmart Adds Early Morning ‘Sensory-Friendly’ Hours in Stores

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Nov. 8, 2023 -- Starting Friday, Walmart stores across the country will institute “sensory friendly” hours to create “a less stimulating environment” from 8 to 10 a.m. every day, the world’s largest retailer said on its website.

“We love being part of a team that can help create a culture where everyone feels they belong,” Walmart said about “making shopping in our stores more inclusive for those with sensory disabilities.”

During those hours, stores will lower lights, turn off the radio, and change TVs to static images. The program is the biggest yet “for people with sensory processing issues, which include autism, ADHD and PTSD,” Axios reported.

Museums and other cultural institutions started special hours more than 10 years ago, Axios wrote. AMC Theatres offers “sensory-friendly” films in a partnership with the Autism Society. Pizza chain Chuck E. Cheese offers “Sensory Sensitive Sundays.”

Walmart had a pilot program with sensory-friendly hours this summer for back-to-school shopping on Saturdays.

“These changes may have seemed small to some, but for others they transformed the shopping experience,” Walmart said. “Our biggest piece of feedback? Keep it going!”

The hours will be offered in each store in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, starting November 10, with no planned end date.

“During these hours, we hope our customers and associates will find the stores to be a little easier on the eyes and ears,” Walmart said. “These changes are thanks to those who shared their feedback on how their stores could help them feel like they belong.”

Nuala O’Connor, senior vice president and chief counsel, digital citizenship, at Walmart, wrote, “I have a child on the autism spectrum, so sensory overload is a lived experience in our house. ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and other forms of neurodiversity are often an invisible disability. It is meaningful to so many families that Walmart is implementing sensory-friendly hours.”