Sainsbury’s has become the first major retailer to trial a ‘Slow Shopping’ concept to aid elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers in carrying out their shopping.

The big four retailer is trialling the concept in its Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne store every Tuesday between 1-3pm. People who want to use the service are greeted at the entrance by a Sainsbury’s employee who will be on hand to assist customers with their shopping. Chairs are put out at the end of aisles to enable people who struggle to stand all the way round the shop to have a rest.

Scott McMahon, deputy manager of Sainsbury’s Gosforth, said: “We invest a lot of time in training colleagues in how to help customers with disabilities; so we were well placed to go the extra step of putting out chairs and manning help points, but it’s our colleagues who really make the difference.

“Over the past year Sainsbury’s has invested over 50,000 hours in training store colleagues how to help customers with visible disabilities and non-visible disabilities like autism.”

The idea was championed by Newcastle resident Katherine Vero who used to find it challenging to go shopping with her mother who had dementia.

She said: “My mum used to love shopping but as her dementia developed it became increasingly difficult. I wondered if there was a way to help us enjoy shopping. After she passed away I was inspired to come up with the idea of Slow Shopping and was delighted when Sainsbury’s agreed to help me trial it and I hope other retailers will follow.”

Research published by the Alzheimer’s Society has found that eight out of 10 of the 850,000 dementia sufferers list shopping as their favourite activity, but one in four have given up shopping after being diagnosed.