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Retailers commit to Purple Tuesday

More retailers, including Marks & Spencer, have committed to improving the customer experience for disabled people as part of this year’s Purple Tuesday accessible shopping day.

It comes after new research revealed that 75% of disabled people have left a store or website unable to complete their purchase because of their disability.

Among the biggest complaints were a lack of staff understanding about their needs (56%), the overall customer experience for disabled people (41%), and the physical accessibility of a store (41%).

Retailers making pledges this year include M&S, which ran a staff campaign “Making Every Day Accessible” this month. It introduced resources for staff, such as a top tips for “being disability confident” video, a guide on how to run sensory-friendly shopping hours and a new “hard of hearing” uniform.

Zoe Mountford, lead sustainability manager at M&S, said: “We’re committed to making M&S the UK’s most accessible retailer, whether customers are shopping online or in-store. Earlier this year we became the first retailer to introduce sunflower lanyards for customers with hidden disabilities into all of our stores, which came one year after we launched daywear for children with disabilities.

“Purple Tuesday is a great opportunity to remind our stores of all the great resources we have introduced over the past year, such as our colleague guide on how to support customers who are hard of hearing and our top tips video on how to be confident serving customer with disabilities.”

Other businesses participating include Bluewater, plus shopping centre owners Intu and Westfield, which is expanding its Purple Tuesday commitments to its centres in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

Purple CEO Mike Adams said: “Meeting the needs of disabled customers makes commercial sense for organisations of all sizes, from all sectors, but our message to organisations is: you don’t have to spend big budgets to make lasting change.

“That’s why we’re urging organisations to focus on improvements that go ‘beyond the front door’.

“Introducing staff training and improving website accessibility are low cost changes, but the difference to a company’s bottom line – as well as to a disabled consumer’s personal experience – can be significant.

“Purple Tuesday has more than doubled in size this year, with more than 2,000 organisations from a variety of sectors making commitments to improve the customer experience for disabled people. These are long-term changes that will have a lasting impact for millions of customers – and improve the commercial opportunities for the organisations involved.”

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