Department store group Debenhams has today become the first high street retailer in the UK to offer a personal shopping service to the blind and partially sighted.
Customers with sight problems can now be taken through the shopping experience with specifically trained staff as the retailer has teamed up with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to identify the main obstacles faced by both the customer and personal shopper.
Staff have undergone extensive training in order to help them understand the feel, style and function of clothing & footwear for customers at various levels of sight loss, including those with cataracts and macular degeneration.
Lesley-Anne Alexander, CEO of RNIB, said: “Our own research shows that 76 per cent of blind and partially sighted people find shopping to be difficult or impossible, so clearly there is a desperate need for this service.
“We’re delighted that Debenhams is the first retailer to offer a service for blind and partially sighted shoppers, and hope that this urges other retailers to follow suit.”
This is the latest service from the group which has championed diversity campaigns, using older models as part of its ‘The Style List’ range advertising campaigns which feature women in their 40s, 50s and 60s.
In September last year, the group also created a campaign fronted by a disabled model, who appeared in a wheelchair in the ads as the chain sought to fight stereotypes.
The new service will be available in all of the 167 Debenhams stores across the UK and Ireland and was inspired by the appearance of blind woman Di Cram, who appeared in hit TV show ‘How To Look Good Naked’ in 2010 and drew media attention to the troubles facing disabled shoppers.
Soleta Oliver, Debenhams Commercial Manager for Store Services, said that the company is passionate about diversity and that creating an inclusive service was paramount here.
“The service acts to make shopping an accessible and enjoyable experience for every single person that comes into our stores,” she commented.
“Working with RNIB together with blind and partially sighted consumers has been invaluable. They have been instrumental in this service, and have contributed to the shape and style of how the appointments will run.”
The service is available now in every Debenhams store. To book an appointment customers can call 08445 61 61 61.