Today see’s the launch of “Purple Tuesday” as high street retailers are being urged to do more to help disabled shoppers
The government estimates the so-called “Purple Pound” – the spending power of the UK’s disabled population – is around £250bn.
Chains including; Asda, M&S and Sainsbury’s have already signed up to the initiative organised by the disability organisation Purple, which aims to see disabled people receive a better shopping experience, whether that’s online or on the high street.
Shops are being encouraged to introduce regular quiet hours for those with sensory issues, improve store way-finding, or introduce more inclusive marketing and product photography.
A lack of provisions for disabled shoppers is a growing concern and means millions is being lost in sales as a result.
Purple Tuesday also wants all retailers to sign up to the governments Disability Confidence Scheme which supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to their workplace.
Chief executive of Purple, Mike Adams said: “When I was Christmas shopping last year, we did a non-scientific exercise and we went in 27 shops in a shopping centre.
“In 23 of them either the front office staff either ignored me or only talked to my partner, and that was this unanticipated, unintentional fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, so the individual swerved the conversation altogether. We want staff to feel confident to come over and say ‘Hello, can I help you?’ and start that conversation.”
Purple says 90% of businesses do not have a specific strategy to help disabled shoppers.
The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Sarah Newton added: “Today is all about letting businesses know that they are actually potentially missing out on a lot of money from a lot of customers who would like to use their businesses, so it’s not only the right thing to make their businesses more accessible but it makes good business sense.”
“Four out of five disabilities are hidden, and that is key. We’ve worked on guiding businesses on what they can do to make customers feel as comfortable as possible. Customer service is key, staff having the confidence to approach people, handle different kinds of situations and being proactive in making people feel welcome.”
Organisers hope this first Purple Tuesday will see further retailers sign up and create lasting change for a sector which makes up nearly one-fifth of the working-age population.