Shopping is an integral part of our day-to-day lives, from heading to the supermarket to get the groceries to looking for gifts for loved ones on your local high street.
Sadly, there are often barriers that prevent shopping from being an enjoyable experience for disabled people.
A poll by disability organisation Purple found that more than half of the disabled people they surveyed were concerned about overcrowding. A similar proportion said they had left a store or abandoned a purchase because of a poor customer experience.
Many of us often choose to shop online thanks to advances in technology, but poor access can extend to the internet. For example, some people miss deliveries because they haven’t been given enough time to answer the door.
While these issues are felt even more acutely in the fast-approaching peak Christmas shopping period, inadequate access isn’t limited to the festive season.
A lack of provision of facilities such as Changing Places toilets can mean that disabled people might just choose to stay at home, rather than getting out and socialising, while poor staff awareness can make shopping more hassle than it’s worth.
Businesses that don’t make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled customers not only risk breaking the law, but they are also missing out on the £249 billion spending power of disabled people and their families.
In my experience, most businesses aren’t intentionally excluding their disabled customers – they just need more guidance to help them become more inclusive.
That’s why I’m joining forces with Purple for the UK’s first ever accessible shopping day on Tuesday 13 November. The day will see retailers – in store and online – introducing new measures to make shopping a more inclusive experience, sending a powerful message that they care about all their customers and that their business matters.
It’s often the small changes that can make a big difference to people’s experiences. Providing staff with disability awareness training, becoming Disability Confident and having clear walkways can all help improve the shopping experience for disabled customers.
More than 100 retailers are already involved with Purple Tuesday, including some of the UK’s most recognised names such as Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and Argos.
Purple Tuesday is a significant step forward in showing retailers how important it is to recognise the needs of their disabled customers. By working together with disability charities and businesses, I’m confident that we can create the culture shift that is needed to ensure disabled people no longer miss out.
Find out more about Purple Tuesday at www.purpletuesday.org.uk, and Disability Confident at https://disabilityconfident.campaign.gov.uk/. You can share your experiences on social media using #PurpleTuesday.
First published in Able magazine