Walmart Is Introducing Sensory-Friendly Hours to Accommodate Different Shoppers

Most Walmart stores are rolling out sensory-friendly hours in order to make a more inclusive environment for all shoppers. Here's what that looks like.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Jul. 24 2023, Published 4:33 p.m. ET

Walmart shopping cart
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Most Walmart stores are rolling out sensory-friendly hours Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. throughout the month of August.
  • During these hours, the store's lights will be dimmer, the radio will be silenced, and the in-store televisions will be turned off.
  • The move is meant to create a quieter shopping environment that’s more enjoyable for customers who live with sensory disabilities.

For years, shoppers have treated Walmart as a one-stop shop for literally any of their needs. People have gone there for groceries, hardware, TVs, and plants, and the store even continues to drum up controversy for its sale of violent weapons.

For better or for worse, you can find almost anything you're looking for at Walmart. Of course, that attracts plenty of customers and can make things incredibly hectic at these locations.

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Walmart is often the image we conjure up whenever we think of loud and overwhelming locations filled with all manner of people with abrasive personalities. It's not exactly a place where one can be breezy when everything is brightly colored and loudly telling you how low its prices are. It can cause plenty of sensory overload for folks. but Walmart seems to have begun addressing this with its new sensory-friendly hours. Here's what you ought to know about these new policies.

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What are Walmart's new sensory-friendly hours for shoppers?

People began catching wind of Walmart's new sensory-friendly hours through TikToks like Ellen's (@ellenwitharthritis). Many have spotted signs in certain Walmart locations that advertise their new shopping periods.

Walmart actually began informing shoppers about these new designated hours in early July 2023. As part of their press statement on back-to-school sales, they also shed some light on their brand new sensory-friendly hours as part of their efforts to "[create] a more inclusive shopping experience."

"We are striving every day to create a culture where everyone feels they belong," a statement by Walmart reads. "This year, Walmart is taking steps toward creating a quieter shopping environment that's more enjoyable for customers who live with sensory disabilities."

To that end, they've rolled out their new sensory-friendly hours for shopping, which take place between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. every Saturday. Supposedly, Walmart customers will "experience a calmer shopping environment" during this time.

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Within these hours, the store's lights will be dimmer, the radio will be silenced, and the in-store televisions will be turned off. In theory, this would allow people living with sensory disabilities to shop without fear of sensory overload caused by the superstore.

Sensory-friendly hours will last throughout July and August of this year.

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Folks on TikTok have praised the idea behind these new hours, which would serve to accommodate folks who would otherwise be physically overwhelmed by superstores like Walmart. However, many believe that the policy could use some tweaking.

For instance, some in the comments of Ellen's initial TikTok have suggested that these take place during the week as opposed to on a Saturday, when shops like Walmart are usually their busiest. This is apparently how it works in Australian grocery stores.

Others would also prefer if the hours took place toward the evening as opposed to early morning. After all, who wants to get up early on a Saturday to go to Walmart? And of course, the store itself can't control other people who may subject others to sensory overload.

For the most part, however, folks believe that Walmart is on the right track with its new sensory-friendly shopping hours.

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