Slow shoppingSupermarket chain Sainsbury’s is trialling a concept called ‘Slow Shopping’, which is designed to help older people, including those with dementia, and people with disabilities who may find shopping in a normal supermarket environment challenging.

The Slow Shopping trial is being held in Sainsbury’s’ store in Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and runs every Tuesday from 1-3pm. During this time people who want to use the service are greeted at the entrance to the store, where a Sainsbury’s colleague is on hand to assist customers with their shopping. Chairs are put out at the end of aisles to enable people who struggle to stand all the way round the shop to have a rest. The store also man two help desks where they offer samples of favourite products such as fruit, ginger biscuits and Victoria sponge.

The idea was championed by Katherine Vero who lives in Newcastle and used to find it hard to go shopping with her mother who had dementia. Research published by the Alzheimer’s Society found that 8 out of 10 of the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK list shopping as their favourite activity. However, since being diagnosed, one in four have given up shopping.

“My mum used to love shopping but as her dementia developed it became increasingly difficult and stressful for us both,” said Vero. “But I didn’t want her to stop going out and become isolated. I wondered if there was a way to help us enjoy shopping.  

“After she passed away I was inspired to come up with the idea of Slow Shopping and was delighted when Sainsbury’s agreed to help me trial it. I hope other retailers will follow.”

Scott McMahon, deputy manager of Sainsbury’s Gosforth store, said: “When my father developed cancer I saw how hard he found shopping yet he still wanted to go to maintain his independence, so when Katherine approached me about trialling Slow Shopping I was keen to help. 

“I knew Sainsbury’s would want to support it too. We invest a lot of time in training colleagues in how to help customers with disabilities; so we were well placed to go the extra step of putting out chairs and manning help points, but it’s our colleagues who really make the difference.”

Over the past year Sainsbury’s has invested over 50,000 hours in training store colleagues how to help customers with visible disabilities and non-visible disabilities like autism. Customers can request assistance with their shopping at any customer service desk in any Sainsbury’s store.