Retailers back UK’s first ‘accessible shopping day’

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Major retailers have backed the launch of the UK’s first “accessible shopping day”, which will see businesses promise to introduce new measures to benefit their disabled customers.

Purple Tuesday, to be held on 13 November, is being led by Purple, the social enterprise formerly known as Essex Coalition of Disabled People.

It has secured backing from businesses and organisations including Asda, Barclays, Argos, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, The Crown Estate, the British Retail Consortium, and Hammerson, which owns Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre, and has been endorsed by the government.

As well as endorsing and promoting Purple Tuesday, every organisation that signs up must make at least one long-term commitment aimed at improving the experience for their disabled customers, such as introducing regular “quiet hours” for neurodiverse shoppers.

Purple will provide retailers that sign up with a training kit to help staff feel confident in assisting disabled shoppers.

It believes there are a “vast array” of adjustments that can be made by retailers that will have a “significant impact”, and many – like the training kit – can be introduced quickly.

Any business or organisation that interacts with disabled customers can sign up to Purple Tuesday, which will also promote the need for accessible retail websites.

Mike Adams (pictured), chief executive of Purple, said: “Less than 10 per cent of companies have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers.

“Fundamentally, Purple Tuesday isn’t about a single day in the year but encouraging lasting change that creates a virtuous circle between businesses and disabled consumers.”

Earlier this year, a report co-authored by Adams, Leading From The Front, found the estimated value of the “purple pound” – the collective spending power of disabled people in the UK and their families – to be £249 billion a year.

The report said that three-quarters of disabled people had walked away from a business because of poor disability awareness – costing businesses £420 million a week – while inaccessible websites and apps cost £11.75 billion in lost revenue in the UK in 2016.

It also pointed out that fewer than one in 10 businesses have a defined strategy for targeting disabled consumers.

Purple Tuesday has evolved from a campaign launched by Purple last year, Help Me Spend My Money, which encouraged retail and hospitality businesses to provide disability equality training to their in-store staff and take other measures such as providing an accessible website.

Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, said: “Shopping should be a pleasant experience, but for many disabled people it can often be the cause of distress and frustration.

“By failing to cater to their disabled customers, many businesses are missing out on billions of pounds and denying disabled people the opportunity to enjoy something which many people take for granted.

“I look forward to working alongside Purple and members of my Disability Retail Forum on this hugely important agenda, highlighting examples of best practice in the retail sector and encouraging others to make small changes which can make a massive difference to their customers.”

 

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