business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

We had a story the other day about how Toys R Us - a company that I've lambasted frequently as running stores that are slightly less appealing than a colonoscopy - is testing an interactive prototype concept aimed at enhancing the consumer experience in a smaller footprint.

MNB reader Cassie Howard then pointed me to a story in the Independent that pointed to something else that Toys R Us is doing in the UK to make the shopping experience more appealing.

On Sunday, the chain opened early, dimmed the lights, turned off the music and PA system, and offered "autism friendly signage" and "quiet zones" that it said it hoped would "make Christmas shopping easier for children with autism and their parents."

The initiative followed a one-store UK test in 2014. And the Independent writes that "most parents and campaigners said the initiative was an excellent idea for autistic people, who can struggle with loud noises and bright lights, making shopping in crowded stores with fluorescent lighting and loud music a nightmare."

And now, the story says, Toys R Us plans to test the concept in the US at a single store in Louisiana.

I think this is really smart, and I hope Toys R Us finds ways to institutionalize it across the chain, and maybe even do it in every store on a regular basis. My sense is that the autism community will embrace it, and communicate among themselves about a retailer that is doing something special and something different ...

And I'll bet that over the long run, it'll be good for sales.

It'll be an Eye-Opener.
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