‘Purple Tuesday’ to promote shopping access for disabled

Argos, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer are among those that have signed up to try to make shopping more inclusive.

By Rhiannon Mills, Sky News corespondent

‘Purple Tuesday’ aims to bring accessibility issues to the fore

Sky News has been given details about the UK’s first ever accessible shopping day aimed at getting retailers to take all kinds of disability seriously.

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Backed by the government and major high street names, “Purple Tuesday” will take place on Tuesday 13th November and will see retailers across the country – and online – introduce new measures to make the shopping experience more inclusive for customers who have both physical and hidden disabilities.

The idea is being coordinated by the disability organisation Purple and will involve shopping centres like Bluewater in Kent, the Bullring in Birmingham, along with Regents Street in London.

Retailers including Argos, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer have also signed up.

We went out shopping with Mike Adams, the chief executive of Purple and his partner Kristine Alderman in Chelmsford. It’s because of the challenges they face when they’re out shopping that they try to encourage businesses to be more inclusive.

Mike said: “There’s a vast array of adjustments retailers can make that will have a significant impact, and many that can be implemented quickly.

“Customer service is a perfect example – as part of Purple Tuesday we’ll be providing a simple training kit to help in-store staff feel confident in assisting disabled shoppers.”

People with disabilities can struggle with access to some shops

It is estimated that the collective spending power of disabled people and their families the so-called “Purple Pound” is £249bn a year.

In 2016, inaccessible websites and apps accounted for an estimated £11.75bn in lost revenue in the UK alone. But less than 10% of companies have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers.

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Zoe Young, Lead Sustainability Manager, for Marks & Spencer told Sky News: “We have DisabledGo Access Guides which tell us a lot of information about how accessible our stores are.

“As you can imagine this varies dramatically across all of our stores, but what we’re doing is we are reviewing all of that information and we are addressing some of those accessibility needs and we’re making physical changes across our stores.”

Research by the Department for Work and Pensions puts both shopping and eating and drinking out in the top three most difficult experiences for disabled people based on accessibility.

The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Sarah Newton, 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.”

Purple Tuesday is being held in November ahead of the Christmas shopping period when busy stores, overloaded with stock can make shopping particularly difficult for those with disabilities.

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The organisers don’t want this to be a one off gesture and realise that one day won’t solve all issues around accessibility but believe this is a positive step.

Mike Adams said: “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.”



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