The power of the Purple Pound
Today, Sight Loss Councils are celebrating Purple Tuesday and the power of the ‘Purple Pound.’ This is part of their work to make retail and shopping more accessible for blind and partially sighted people.
Purple Tuesday is a global movement to improve the customer experience for disabled people. In 2021, the spending power of disabled people and their households amounted to £274 billion per year and this is growing year on year. This means a fifth of potential customers will have a disability.
In contrast, the Purple Tuesday initiative reports that 70 per cent of disabled people will not return to a business after receiving poor customer service.
Sight Loss Council activity
Sight Loss Councils (SLC) are here to change that. We are working alongside retailers across Greater Manchester, London, and the West Midlands to make retail accessible for blind and partially sighted (BPS) people. This includes vision awareness sessions, giving accessibility feedback, working with retailers to produce useful guidance on how to best support BPS shoppers and more.
Merseyside Sight Loss Council member, Norma Williams, said:
“Purple Tuesday is about people with disabilities and the millions of pounds they contribute to the economy. We will all continue to work together to help ensure retail is accessible for everyone.”
Today, in celebration of Purple Tuesday, here’s an overview of how Sight Loss Councils across England are connecting with retailers and shoppers to make retail accessible.
Greater Manchester SLC will be running two events at Mill Gate Shopping Centre and Manchester Arndale.
They will be joined by Bury Blind Society to work with retailers at Mill Gate Shopping Centre to highlight some of the challenges BPS encounter through the use of simulation spectacles and canes.
In the afternoon, SLC members will return to Manchester Arndale, where their focus will be on public awareness. They will speak to shoppers to raise awareness of the needs of BPS shoppers.
Greater Manchester SLC at Mill Gate Shopping Centre, with Gill, Bury Blind Society
Greater Manchester SLC during a Purple Tuesday event in 2022. SLC member Anthony is assisting a retailer with a long cane and sim-specs
Kelly Barton, Engagement Manager for the North West, said:
“Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council has been working on a project to make retail more accessible for blind and partially sighted shoppers. We are absolutely delighted to be hosting two Purple Tuesday events this year at Mill Gate Shopping Centre in Bury, Manchester Arndale.
“Purple Tuesday is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of how important it is for retail to be inclusive and accessible for anyone who is blind or partially sighted. We all shop, therefore shopping should be accessible for everyone.
“On the day, we want retailers and members of the public to come along and meet with us, try on some simulation glasses and see what it’s like to shop when you have little or no vision.”
London SLC is at Westfields London. SLC members will raise awareness of how BPS people shop and navigate shopping centres, highlighting how the public can be more mindful of others as they shop.
Shoppers will be invited to try on simulation spectacles to get an understanding of how BPS people experience simple tasks – for example reading product labels. They will also demonstrate what apps and tools can be useful for this, as well as sharing their ‘Mindful Shopper’ poster, which launches today.
The poster is aimed at educating members of the public on being more aware of blind and partially sighted shoppers around them. It was designed by members of London Sight Loss Councils, with Steve Reed leading on the project.
Mindful Shopper poster, produced by London SLC
Lucy Williams, Senior Engagement Manager for South England, said:
“Working with shopping centre’s to improve accessibility is a new project for us in London.
“A core part of this is to raise awareness amongst the public and asking other shoppers to be mindful of blind and partially sighted people as they shop.
“We’re really excited to be exhibiting at Westfield London and launching our Mindful Shopper poster on Purple Tuesday.”
Visit them at Westfield London on 7 November between 11am – 3pm.
Nikki Hughes, South West London SLC member, with Lucy Williams, Senior Engagement Manager for South England. They are stood at their Purple Tuesday stall in Westfield Shopping Centre.
Birmingham and Black Country
Birmingham and Black Country SLC is returning to Merry Hill shopping centre. SLC members will share the importance of Purple Tuesday and use this opportunity to share their lived experience with customers and retailers.
SLC members will invite retailers to try simulation spectacles and carry out simple shopping tasks whilst wearing them.
Ashleigh Bryant, SLC Coordinator for West Midlands, said:
“Birmingham and Black Country SLC is really looking forward to hosting a Purple Tuesday event at Merry Hill again this year.
“We received some really positive engagement from retailers last year in raising the awareness of accessibility for blind and partially sighted people. We aim for another successful year!”
Visit them at Merry Hill Shopping Centre between 10am – 2pm.
Jagdeep Rana, Birmingham and Black Country SLC member, talking to retailers at Merry Hill Shopping Centre
Why is Purple Tuesday important?
Amin Afzal GM SLC member, said:
“It’s important to make people aware of the difficulties that visually impaired people come across daily. I want to make a positive change to people’s lives and that’s why I’m involved with Purple Tuesday.”
Gill Currie, SLC member who also works for Bury Blind Society, said:
“Purple Tuesday is a great opportunity to make retailers aware of how difficult it can be for blind and partially sighted people when shopping in their stores.”
Amrit Dhaliwal, London SLC member, said:
“As an SLC member, I am passionate about highlighting the challenges visually impaired people face in all areas of their lives.
“I don’t think that people would consider the many challenges faced by us when we are out shopping. That is why I am so excited and keen to get involved in Purple Tuesday.
“It is a perfect opportunity to raise much needed awareness to the retailers and the general public.”
Val Griffiths, Birmingham and Black Country SLC member, said:
“Purple Tuesday is a way of explaining to retailers, of every kind, the spending potential of people with disabilities and older people.
“If we are treated with respect and help, we will spend our money given the opportunity. We are still entitled to enjoy life as much as anyone else!”
Nikki Hughes, South West London SLC member, said:
“Purple Tuesday gives Sight Loss Councils a great opportunity to work with retailers and members of the public about how valuable blind and partially sighted people can be to the economy.
“By making small adjustments and considerations, blind and partially sighted people can be active participants in creating a more inclusive shopping experience for everyone. This stands to benefit everyone in the long run.
“Everyone deserves to have a great shopping experience and participate in activities that are a part of every day life. Shopping is both a leisure activity and a daily necessity which should be available to everybody.
“This is why the South West London SLC is working to improve the shopping experience for people with sight loss, by getting involved in Purple Tuesday.”
Anthony Gough GM SLC member, said:
“Purple Tuesday provides us with a great opportunity to work with retailers to raise awareness of the challenges blind and partially sighted people face when shopping. As a Sight Loss Council, we have formed great relationships with many retailers across Greater Manchester.
“Whilst Purple Tuesday is a great way to celebrate many of these brilliant connections and achievements, our work as an SLC continues throughout the year, as we deliver training and raise awareness to our retail partners.”
Mary Gilbertson, GM SLC member, added:
“Greater Manchester SLC has enjoyed many events over the past two years raising issues that blind and partial sighted people face every day when shopping.
“Retailers have attended training and events with us. The VI community have participated, which has developed their confidence to go shopping independently. Being able to make your own decisions is important to their mental health and well-being.
“I have enjoyed being part of the SLC team in this process and going to purchases items myself. Purple Tuesday helped me to realise how retailers could market and assist more customers.”
Chris Smith, Head of Marketing, Manchester Arndale said:
“Purple Tuesday is a fantastic annual event, which aims to improve the customer experience for disabled people within the retail industry.
“At Manchester Arndale we are committed to improving this experience 365 days a year, which is why we have a long-standing partnership with the Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council.
“We’ve achieved some fantastic work together so far, including the launch of our large print Centre Guide and map, delivering employee training sessions and hosting a beauty event for people with Visual Impairments.
“We’re delighted to have the Sight Loss Council back again on 7 November to highlight the importance of inclusivity to shoppers.”
Angela Tierney, Centre Manager, at Mill Gate Shopping Centre, said:
“Mill Gate Shopping Centre is committed to serving our local communities and providing a safe and inclusive space for everyone to enjoy.
“Making the retail experience more accessible to blind and partially sighted people really matters. We’re delighted to be working with Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council to improve both our facilities and raise awareness among our staff and retailers.
“As well as taking part in sessions to gain a greater insight into the challenges faced by people with visual impairment, and how we can improve their overall experience, we are also working with our digital team to ensure alternative text, which describes what is in picture or photograph, is added to our online images enabling people with visual impairment to interpret it.”
Top Tips for Retailers
We are also continuing to showcase our ‘Top Tips for Retailers’ Guide. This was produced by Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council for retailers across the UK.
Learn more about how to make your shopping experience accessible for blind and partially sighted people across the UK.
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Publication date: 07 November 2023