Sainsbury's trials 'slow shopping' to support vulnerable customers

2nd Sep 2016

Sainsbury's is trialling a new scheme designed to improve the shopping experience for customers who struggle with their weekly shop. 

The Slow Shopping scheme was founded by Katherine Vero, who witnessed the distress her own mother experienced when shopping after being diagnosed with dementia. It caters for those who suffer from anxiety or mental illness, those who struggle with communication or literacy, the elderly, those with dementia and all those who suffer from visible or invisible disabilities. 

The concept is now being trialled by the Gosforth branch of Sainsbury's in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne every Tuesday between 1 and 3pm. During this period, customers are given more time and space to make their way around the supermarket, and will be encouraged to make use of chairs placed throughout the store. 

The supermarket has also assigned staff to two dedicated help points, so members of the team are on hand to help customers as and when they need support. These helpdesks also offer samples of products such as fruit, ginger biscuits and Victoria sponge.

Customers are not identified as having additional needs and there are no specialist aisles or separation, which can be the source of more stress.

Having seen his own father struggle with shopping, Scott McMahon, deputy manager of the Sainsbury's Gosforth store, was keen to support the trial. “We invest a lot of time training colleagues in how to help customers with disabilities; so we were well placed to go the extra step by putting out chairs and manning help points,” he says. “But it's our colleagues who really make the difference.”

Sainsbury's scored above the sector average for customer satisfaction in the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index, with an increase of 0.8 points in the last six months. The supermarket chain scored 7.9 out of 10 for 'caring about the customer' and 8.2 for 'helpfulness of staff in person'.

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