June 13, 2017

About

Senior woman going to grocery store with help of carer

The Problem

Accessibility issues still dissuade many disabled consumers from spending more of their money in the UK’s shops, bars, and restaurants.

Serving the needs of disabled consumers and their families is not just about meeting legal obligations around anti-discrimination and physical access, it means making sure they receive the same great service as any other customer.

This is particularly important for the four in five disabled people who have a hidden impairment as it isn’t always obvious that they might need special assistance.

Unfortunately, 75% of disabled people and their families say they have left a shop because of poor customer service (Click here to see report by Extra Costs Commission).

Poor service can take many forms, but one of the most common and underappreciated is a failure to engage or acknowledge disabled customers. In the majority of instances this doesn’t happen on purpose, it’s because members of staff are concerned about causing (unintentional) offence. In other words, they are not disability confident.

This is a lose-lose situation. Shopping and eating and drinking out already rank in the top three most difficult experiences for disabled people based on accessibility, according to research conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (Click here to see report). As a result, UK businesses could be missing out on as much as £420 million a week in lost sales.

Finally, with more spending moving online, retailers who don’t provide accessible websites and apps for disabled users are likely to miss out on their custom.

The Opportunity

7 million people of working age have a disability. The government estimates that the collective spending power of their households (known as the ‘Purple Pound’) is worth £249 billion to the UK economy.

Over 80% of disabled consumers choose to shop with retailers that support disabled people. Many will pick a store that is less accessible than others but has more helpful staff.

Disability confidence in retail and hospitality is not just about social responsibility, it represents a huge commercial opportunity. In a fiercely competitive market, retail and hospitality businesses that delight disabled consumers can win loyal customers and realise the potential of the Purple Pound.

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