Toy stores in Northampton open hour early for families affected by autism and special needs

Victoria Holdsworth, Founder of Autism Friendly UK
Victoria Holdsworth, Founder of Autism Friendly UK

The Toys R Us stores in Northampton are holding a special Christmas browsing event for families affected by autism and special needs.

The stores will open an hour early at 10am on Sunday November 15 to give families the chance to go around the store in a relaxed environment.

The stores in St James Retail Park and Weston Favell Shopping Centre are participating in the scheme.

A spokesperson for Toys R Us said the event started in 2014 by the store in Leeds in collaboration with Victoria Holdsworth, founder of local autism group - Autism friendly UK.

“Since then, Toys R Us has agreed to offer the same experience to other families affected by autism and additional needs across the country.

“The National Autistic Society have been instrumental in assisting with advice and information to all our store managers to help understand the needs of families,” the spokesperson said.

“All stores will be inviting families to experience an environment suited to their children’s needs. Reduced fluorescent lighting, no loud music or tannoy announcements and autism friendly signage are just some of the initiative’s Toys R Us will be carrying out to ensure a more calming influence in store,” the spokesperson added.

Victoria Holdsworth, founder of Autism Friendly UK, added: “Autism-friendly events at Toys R Us have given families of those with additional needs a chance to enjoy toy shopping together without fear of judgement or a busy and difficult environment. I’m very proud to have worked with them in starting this event and I hope that it continues to bring joy to families!”.

The stores will open one hour before the official store opening times. Due to Sunday Trading legislation, stores are unable to perform any sales transactions, process any direct purchases or complete any returns during this period but will action at the official store opening time of 11am.

The spokesperson added: “This may cause concerns to some families whose children may struggle with the patience of waiting between choosing their items and their parents being able to pay for them due to Sunday Trading.”