Purple Tuesday - How the Uk's First Accessible Shopping Day Strived to Make an Everlasting Change

Purple Tuesday took place this month, on the 13th of November. It was the UK’s first accessible shopping day but aimed to be a year-round initiative.

Nearly one in every five people in the UK has a disability or impairment, and early this year, a report estimated their collective spending power - the Purple Pound - to be a staggering £249 billion a year! However, this potential is not being fully explored and there are still many barriers that make it difficult for disabled people to spend money online and in store. 

Purple Tuesday aimed to make retailers aware of the importance and needs of consumers with disabilities and to promote inclusive shopping. 

The initiative provided organisations that signed up with a training kit to help their staff feel confident in assisting disabled consumers, and was backed by 700 businesses and organisations, including major players such as Asda, Barclays, Argos, Marks & Spencer and The Crown Estate.

As well as supporting and promoting Purple Tuesday, every organisation that signed up had to make at least one long-term commitment to improve the experience for disabled shoppers. 

The day brought together businesses, organisations, staff and disabled people for a common cause - to increase the accessibility of the retail sector, which is sure to benefit disabled people and retailers alike.

If you didn’t join Purple Tuesday but are now thinking of how you can adapt your retail business to improve the experience of disabled shoppers, here are five measures you can take today:

- Consider all types of disabilities - Disabilities come in all shapes and forms, and what helps with some will not help with others. It’s important to take into consideration different types of disabilities and to respond in the best way possible to each individual’s needs.

- Adjust lighting and noise - Fluorescent lighting, booming music and crows can be tough if you have a condition such as autism. Creating quiet zones and softening lights could make a huge difference.

- Add seats - Shopping can be notoriously exhausting if you have a chronic illness. Extra seating and chairs in changing rooms can help tremendously with this.

- Make sure you’re wheelchair-friendly - Simple things such as making sure all shoppers can enter and navigate the shop and it has accessible changing rooms would make a significant difference.

- Offer real-time assistance - Shopping can be stressful for disabled people, but stores can easily remove some of the stress by being helpful and eager to answer to the needs of disabled shoppers in real time.