Interview • 31.10.2023

The "quiet hour" – A contribution to inclusion in retail?

Finding calm in a busy world: supermarkets make their mark

The world of commerce is constantly looking for new ways to attract and retain customers. The "quiet hour" is becoming more and more popular all around the world, but it goes beyond mere marketing and aims to make the shopping experience more enjoyable for everyone. We spoke to a German store manager and asked him about his approach towards the initiative.

A trend beneficial to all

In today's stimulus-flooded world, moments of tranquility are rare. This is precisely where the "quiet hour" concept comes in. The idea is to offer customers a calmer and more pleasant shopping experience. During this time, the music is turned off, and no advertising or announcements disturb the silence. Even the lights are dimmed

Originally, the "quiet hour" is a concept with inclusion in mind. It was created to provide a more pleasant shopping experience for people with sensory sensitivities. In particular, people with autism, ADHD and similar diagnoses can be especially sensitive to typical supermarket stimuli. But many neurotypical individuals also enjoy the quiet moments.

How do you come up with this idea?

We asked Max Stenten, who runs two branches of REWE – one of Germany's largest supermarket chains – in Aachen, a city in Western Germany. For some time now, he has also been running the "quiet hour" once a week from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.. In the interview, he says that the idea came from a customer who asked for the volume to be adjusted. That was implemented within a few weeks. "There are some people who have problems with music or noise," Stenten says. "I wouldn't have thought that before, but because of customer approval, we've gotten a lot of feedback as a result."

More than just numbers

Stenten was candid about the impact of the "quiet hour" on the business. He confirmed that it has no noticeable impact on sales or day-to-day operations. Although he would like to see more customers take advantage of this offer, he understands that ultimately only a minority benefit directly. So it really is primarily a matter of consideration and customer satisfaction.

Conclusion: It works!

Stenten recommends that other retailers who are thinking about introducing a "quiet hour" simply give it a try. "There's not much of a challenge involved, and there's nothing to lose anyway – on the contrary, more to gain!" In his stores, the lights, music and other settings are now automatically turned down for "quiet hour." So the project remains in force with Stenten.

The "quiet hour" shows how important it is to respond to the needs of customers, to have an open ear and not just to keep an eye on sales figures. It is a step towards more inclusive and customer-oriented retailing, which will certainly become more widespread in the future.

Nastassja Lotz

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