Small Changes, Big Impact: Sensory-Friendly Hours Return

Nov. 7, 2023

Image shows a family walking through a Walmart aisle, as they look at products on the shelf. The man is pushing a cart that has two children sitting in the cart. One child is holding his hands over his ears.

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Editor’s Note: On Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, a press center was added to this blog to provide media with additional assets and information.

We love being part of a team that can help create a culture where everyone feels they belong. Belonging looks different for each person, but when we listen and value everyone's perspectives, thoughtful change can happen. 

Earlier this year, we took a step in making shopping in our stores more inclusive for those with sensory disabilities by taking measures to create a less stimulating environment for a couple hours each Saturday. During the back-to-school season, we changed the TV walls to a static image, turned off the radio and lowered the lights where possible. The feedback of the pilot program was overwhelmingly positive. These changes may have seemed small to some, but for others they transformed the shopping experience. Our biggest piece of feedback? Keep it going! 

We’re excited to share we are bringing back sensory-friendly hours from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. local time, not only on Saturdays, but every day at all Walmart U.S. and Puerto Rico stores, beginning Nov. 10, with no planned end date. During these hours, we hope our customers and associates will find the stores to be a little easier on the eyes and ears. These changes are thanks to those who shared their feedback on how their stores could help them feel like they belong. 

Images show three quotes. Quote 1 says: “As a mother of a child with autism, thank you very much for recognizing needs, and being sensitive to them. Little things such as lighting, noise etc does make a difference.” - Andrea T., Walmart customer. Quote 2 says: “Several associates expressed the desire to continue this program all year. We have associates with Autism, ADHD, etc in the store and one associate made the comment that this is the first time the company did something just for him. I know we could all use some calm during the stressful holiday season, so I hope this program can continue.” Tyler Morgan, Walmart store manager, Store 3475. Quote 3 says: “I have a child on the autism spectrum, so sensory overload is a lived experience in our house.  ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and other forms of neurodiversity are often an invisible disability. It is meaningful to so many families that Walmart is implementing sensory-friendly hours.” Nuala O’Connor, SVP & chief counsel, Digital Citizenship, Walmart

From face-to-face conversations, emails, listening sessions, social media and our personal experiences in the stores, we have seen what these changes mean for our customers and associates. And, we continue to welcome feedback on how we can enhance these sensory-friendly measures in our stores. Our mission is to help families save money so they can live better, and we’ll continue to take steps to fulfill that promise for everyone who comes through our doors.