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Slow Shopping Comes to Cranleigh

Taking the stress out of shopping

Are you a fast or slow lane person? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when shopping or find the whole experience stressful?

Many people struggle with the hustle and bustle of a supermarket trip, especially those with living with frailty, physical disability, autism, sensory loss, dementia or anxiety states. It can be difficult for carers too.

Sometimes the whole experience is too fast, too noisy, from the movement of trolleys, or the sound of in-store radio, right through to the checkout, where people feel the pressure is on to be quick, not to keep people waiting.

Difficulties can also arise when there’s nowhere to sit and ‘take a breather’, or when you are struggling to read labels, or find some specific items.

SMART Cranleigh has been talking to our local supermarkets, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op together with the Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce, who are all keen to do what they can to meet the needs of the wider community.

Stores in Cranleigh already offer lots of support to customers and play an active role in our community, but now they want to go that extra mile.

As an initial move, the supermarkets have agreed to identify a specific time, where there will be more support if it is needed. That’s what SLOW shopping is all about. Some places call this ‘Calm Shopping’ or ‘Quiet Hour’.

Offering a calmer environment with a few simple changes to the environment with enhanced staff knowledge will help people feel less confused and able to move at a more manageable pace. There will be time to shop without pressure, more seating available, staff trained to give more assistance and help with packing with a slow checkout, and a quieter less cluttered environment.

The project is initially starting on a Tuesday morning between 8.30-12.00 and may progress from there after a pilot session is trialled. The aim is to learn from the experience by listening to people needing a little extra support. In this way they can shape what is needed where barriers exist which prevent them doing the daily living tasks.

This approach will be linked to the general need in the village for improving pavements, increasing sitting places, signage and the things to keep people living in the mainstream.

There has been a lot of press recently about keeping the high street a vibrant place and to enable more people to get out and about with confidence. Knowing that there is a little extra time, a little extra help on hand – that makes ALL the difference!

Rosemary Hurtley

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