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Empire debuts sensory friendly shopping at grocery stores

Grocery retailer Empire Company, based in Stellarton, NS, has begun an initiative to introduce “sensory friendly shopping” to approximately 450 of its stores nationally. The effort will take place at participating Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Thrifty Foods, Foodland and FreshCo stores. It is intended to provide a more inclusive shopping experience for consumers with sensory sensitivities. During scheduled blocks of time each week, these stores will dim the in-store lights, turn off background music and public announcements, and reduce cash register noise. Individual stores in these chains have been offering this program on a store-by-store basis since 2018.

“The grocery store is a central hub of the community,” said Heather DeBlois, director of diversity and inclusion at Sobeys. “We pride ourselves on creating an inclusive environment that reflects our diverse customer base and the communities where we work. It’s important to us that everyone knows they are welcome in our stores. Sensory Friendly Shopping has been a grassroots movement driven by our store teams, demonstrating how important it is for retailers to consider how they accommodate a diverse customer base.”

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