To help elderly customers and those with disabilities, Sainsbury’s is trialling a concept called Slow Shopping.
The initiative is run at the supermarket chain’s Gosforth store in Newcastle-upon-Tyne every Tuesday from 1-3pm. People who want to use the service are greeted at the entrance to the store, where a staff member is on hand to assist with their shopping.
Chairs are put out at the end of aisles to enable people who struggle to stand all the way round the shop to have a rest. The store also runs two help desks, which offer samples of favourite products such as fruit, ginger biscuits and Victoria sponge.
The idea was championed by Katherine Vero who lives in Newcastle and used to find it hard to go shopping with her mother who had dementia.
Research published by the Alzheimer’s Society has found that eight out of ten of the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK list shopping as their favourite activity. However, since being diagnosed, one in four has given up shopping.
Katherine Vero, founder of Slow Shopping said: “My mum used to love shopping but as her dementia developed, it became increasingly difficult and stressful for us both. 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.
“After she passed away I was inspired to come up with the idea of Slow Shopping and was delighted when Sainsbury’s agreed to help me trial it. I hope other retailers will follow.”
Scott McMahon, deputy manager of Sainsbury’s Gosforth store, said: “When my father developed cancer I saw how hard he found shopping – yet he still wanted to go to maintain his independence. So when Katherine approached me about trialling Slow Shopping, I was keen to help.
“I knew Sainsbury’s would want to support it too. We invest a lot of time in training colleagues in how to help customers with disabilities; so we were well placed to go the extra step of putting out chairs and manning help points. But it’s our colleagues who really make the difference.”
In the past year Sainsbury’s has invested over 50,000 hours in training store staff on how to help customers with visible disabilities and non-visible disabilities such as autism.
Customers can request assistance with their shopping at any customer service desk in any Sainsbury’s store.