Sensory overload is apparently a common problem in supermarkets and one Adelaide supermarket is doing something about it. They are creating a one hour quiet time to allow affected customers to limit their exposure to all the bells and whistles that come with modern shopping.
The problem has been particularly connected with customers who gave sensory perception disorder which is common in autism, although many people suffer some form of sensory overload. Feeling uncomfortable in large crowds is one indicator. It is all caused by the noise of cash registers, the beeping of machines, coffee grinders, PA announcements, and so on. During quiet time in this Adelaide supermarket the bakery shuts down, cleaning activities are suspended, the cash register sounds are turned down, music and PA announcements are turned off, and lighting is reduced. The trial has been conducted in association with disability services provider CARA, and operates between 6:30 and 7:30 on a Tuesday. Results so far have been positive.
If we were to introduce something similar at QVM we could perhaps look at banning spruiking and PA announcements, putting rubber wheels on storage boxes and definitely banning radio music. But the one market activity that upsets my sensory perceptions more than any other is bashing those sliding racks against boxes or fittings to free up the slide mechanism. Some traders need to invest in new racks or at least lubricate their current fittings.
Noise and atmosphere are considered desirable attributes for a public market but maybe we could give consideration to this quiet initiative or at least tackle the extreme sounds that are likely to deter some customers (and cranky editors).