M&S and Sainsbury’s sign up for disabled accessibility initiative “Purple Tuesday”

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Some of the UK’s biggest retail organisations have signed up to “Purple Tuesday”, an initiative designed to make shopping more inclusive for disabled people.

Purple Tuesday will be launched on November 13 at the start of the busy Christmas shopping period and will offer retailers training kits for their staff and make both their stores and websites more accessible.

The project, co-ordinated by disability organisation Purple, has been endorsed by the government and leading retailers including Argos, Asda, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s have pledged their support.

Research has suggested that around half of disabled shoppers have abandoned a purchase due to poor customer service, while more than half were concerned about overcrowding.

Disabled people and their families are understood to have a collective spending power of £249 billion, but disabled respondents put shopping in their top three most difficult experiences based on accessibility.

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

“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.”

“Less than 10% of companies have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers. 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.”

Minister for disabled people, work and health, Sarah Newton, added: “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.

“I look forward to working alongside Purple and members of my Disability Retail Forum on this hugely important agenda, highlighting examples of best practice in the retail sector and encouraging others to make small changes which can make a massive difference to their customers.”

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