What is Purple Tuesday?

Everything you need to know about the UK's first accessible shopping day

“I define who I am” Teatum Jones SS19

“I define who I am” Teatum Jones SS19


One in five people in the UK has a form of disability or impairment, and collectively these individuals are recognised as having a spending power of £249 billion. Now known as the ‘purple pound’, this staggering sum of money isn’t entering into the UK economy because of the many physical barriers which prevent those with disabilities from fulfilling their potential as consumers.

Research carried out by the disability charity Purple revealed that nearly 50% of disabled shoppers have given up on making a purchase because of poor customer service. The aim of Purple Tuesday, which takes place on 13 November during the pre-Christmas shopping period, is to make retailers more conscious of this untapped consumer group. Most importantly, the initiative wants to inspire businesses to improve the disabled customer experience not just on a single day, but over the long term by providing staff with disability-focused customer service training.

There’s a vast array of adjustments retailers can make that will have a significant impact, and many that can be implemented quickly.
— Mike Adams, chief executive of the disability charity Purple who are spearheading the initiative.

“Customer service is a perfect example”, he continues, “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.

Backed by the government and a handful of major high street names (including Argos, Asda, Sainsbury's, and Marks & Spencer), Purple Tuesday will see retailers across the country introduce new measures to make the shopping experience more inclusive for customers who have both physical and hidden disabilities. It includes anything from introducing regular ‘quiet hours’ for those with sensory issues and improving store wayfinding, to introducing more inclusive marketing and product photography.

This initiative doesn’t stop at physical retailers, but it also extends to online shopping platforms. According to the Click-Away Pound survey, retailers with inaccessible websites or apps are losing an estimated £11.75 billion of online sales in the UK alone. The survey also showed that over 80% of these customers will not necessarily spend their money on the website that offers the cheapest products, but where fewest barriers are placed in their way. This encompasses those with visual impairments, learning disabilities and motor impairments which make it difficult or impossible to use a mouse- all of which will affect how they are able to interact with a website. Adaptations may include applications such as text-to-speech or magnification software.

According to the charity, disabled customers have expressed number of the key areas that would make a real difference to their Christmas shopping experience:

  • “We know additional stock is needed at this time of year, but please avoid putting them in the aisles as it restricts wheelchair access”

  • “Please make sure contactless payment machines can be removed from their cases as they should – so we can pay independently. Sometimes they are placed too high”

  • “Please ensure accessible toilets are truly accessible, and not full of shop equipment”

  • “We would appreciate more quiet hours. Customers with mental health conditions and anxiety would like the default position to be: ‘Hi, if you step over here it is a bit quieter and you can ask me any questions’. That one sentence might be the difference in someone staying (and purchasing) or leaving”

For more information on Purple Tuesday and useful toolkits for retailers please visit the charity’s website.

Published online by FashionRoundtable.co.uk


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