Retailers are losing money by forgetting disabled consumers

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UK retailers are losing millions of pounds of annual revenue by not catering to its disabled consumers. There are more than 13 million people in the UK, a fifth of the population, that are disabled.
UK retailers are losing millions of pounds of annual revenue by not catering to its disabled consumers.
// Disabled shoppers spend £163 on retail per month but it could be much higher if shops catered for their needs
// 75% of disabled people have left stores & websites, unable to finish purchases because of their disability, research shows

UK retailers are losing millions of pounds of annual revenue by not catering to its disabled consumers, new research has shown.

There are more than 13 million people in the UK that live with a disability and nearly a third of them spend money with retail businesses every week, according to research conducted by Purple, a disability organisation championing accessible shopping.

Despite this, over half of those who responded to Purple’s survey said they were struggling to make purchases of a product or service due to their disability.

The poll suggested that people who considered themselves disabled revealed spent on average £163 on shopping per month.

Purple’s research also suggested that disabled young people between the ages of 16-24 fared the worst, with more than three-quarters saying they found it difficult to shop online or in person due to their disability on multiple occasions.

Approximately four in five disabled customers said businesses could do more to make their stores accessible.

Fifty-six per cent agreed that through proper training, staff would be able to understand different disabilities and serve them better.

These changes would encourage disabled customers to spend more of their disposable income, which Purple estimated to be £249 billion a year.

Meanwhile, 75 per cent of disabled people have had to leave a store or website in the past, as they were unable to finish a purchase because of their disability.

However, respondents said the retail industry was the most accessible sector to purchase from, followed by banking and hospitality and leisure.

The research comes just in time for Purple Tuesday on November 12, a day celebrating UK companies that are actively improving customer experience for disabled shoppers.

Major retailers taking part include Sainsbury’s and shopping centre giant Intu.

“While many UK businesses and organisations are stepping up to the mark and making the changes needed to improve disabled customers’ experiences, far too many are not,” Purple chef executive Mike Adams said.

“This is a huge mistake, not least because by turning their backs on disabled shoppers, they are losing out on millions of pounds of revenue every year.

“It should simply not be the case that one in two disabled people struggle to make purchases online or in person.

“Small changes can make a big difference to the customer experience; we want to help organisations have the confidence to improve their services for disabled people.”

More than one in five survey respondents said retailers hiring more disabled people would make them more likely to shop there.

Some stated that “wider aisles” or “lighter doors” would have the same effect.

This follows comes a week after M&S introduced sunflower lanyards in all its UK stores as part of an initiative to support customers with disabilities.

M&S’s sunflower lanyards will be available for any disabled customer needing in-store support.

The sunflower lanyard scheme helps people with disabilities which aren’t always visibly obvious – such as autism, dementia and visual or hearing impairments.

M&S informed all 80,000 staff members on what the lanyards mean and how to serve customers who wear them.

In February, Sainsbury’s launched a similar sunflower lanyard trial at its Barnstaple store.

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