Real estate company Landsec has said it will take steps over the year to make its shopping destinations autism-friendly, with the aim of delivering a more inclusive retail experience.
Landsec will deliver new services across its shopping and outlet centres in the UK throughout 2019.
It will introduce sensory toy bags, which will be available for children with autism during their visit, and downloadable and printed guides to centres, to allow guests to familiarise themselves with the layout, look and feel of the destination in advance of their visit.
It will also put in place hidden disability lanyards, to allow staff to proactively offer assistance, as well as offering weekly quiet hours, during which lighting will be dimmed and music will be reduced in the central areas of destinations.
In addition, front of house staff at all destinations will receive training in how to support guests with hidden disabilities.
The services will be rolled out across Clarks Village; Freeport Braintree; The Galleria, Hatfield; St David’s, Cardiff; Southside, Wandsworth; The O2 Centre, Finchley Road; Lewisham Shopping Centre; West 12 Shopping Centre; Junction 32, Castleford; Bluewater; Trinity Leeds; Westgate, Oxford; Gunwharf Quays; Buchanan Galleries and White Rose, Leeds.
Ailish Christian-West, head of property at Landsec, said: “We recognise that retail destinations don’t traditionally cater for neurodiversity, and, as a result, trips can be stressful and difficult. We’re confident that the measures we’ve introduced today are a step in the right direction, and will make our destinations more welcoming for people with autism and their carers.”