Autism Aware Quiet Evenings are to be introduced at all Lidl stores in Northern Ireland.
And the first of these will get underway in Newry and Newtownards early next month.
The introduction of the initiative will begin to be rolled out from World Autism Day on Monday, April 2.
Lidl says that from that date it “will make a number of sensory adjustments in each of our stores”, such as reduced lighting, no music or announcements and lower till scan sounds.
Assistance dogs will also be welcomed.
The Autism Aware Quiet Evenings – to take place on Tuesdays – will then be rolled out to all stores in the coming weeks, with updated information on where and when to be published on Lidl’s website.
It will begin at the stores at Damolly Retail Park, at Armagh Road, Newry, and at Jubilee Road in Newtownards.
Lidl says: “In Northern Ireland, statistically, more than one in 40 people live with autism. Between the bright lights, crowded spaces, noise and sensory overload, grocery shopping can sometimes be a very stressful task for people with autism.
“With this in mind, we have organised ‘Autism Aware Quiet Evenings’ in each of our stores to help people and families who may struggle with the weekly run.
“These Autism Aware Quiet Evenings will take place weekly, on Tuesdays from 6pm to 8pm, offering our customers a more comfortable shopping experience.”
As part of these evenings, Lidl says it will see them offering customers a “calmer shopping environment and the security of knowing that priority queuing and additional assistance are available if necessary”.
The retailer adds: “We’ve been working with charities, such as the National Autistic Society to ensure that these evenings fit our customer’s needs. From April 2nd, World Autism Day, we will make a number of sensory adjustments in each of our stores.”
Lidl says while the initiative will initially take place in Newry and Newtownards, it will be rolled out to all.
They are also seeking help to ensure the success of the initiative, adding: “We would also like to invite registered autism charities to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to promote their work and raise awareness of autism by speaking with Lidl colleagues and customers in stores nationwide during our Autism Aware Quiet Evenings.”
It is expected that full roll out to all stores will be complete by May.