Many shops alienating disabled customers

Trailblazers CoverA new report has found that many high street shops are alienating their disabled customers due to poor physical access, inadequate information, a lack of or misuse of disabled toilets and changing rooms, and even staff attitudes.

And it spells out that an accessible high street is not just a (legal) right – but makes good business sense – with 75 percent of the reports researchers having felt “forced or limited to shopping online owing to a lack of physical access in and around their town centre.”

The report, Short-changed, is published by Trailblazers, a group of disabled campaigners and part of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. It was researched and compiled by Trailblazers ambassadors in locations around the UK. It found that:

  • 75 percent felt forced or limited to shop online owing to a lack of physical access in and around their town centre
  • Two thirds said that physical access always or regularly affects where they decide togo
  • Nearly half say that staff attitude discourages them from revisiting local shops
  • 85 percent seedisabled toilets, changing rooms or lifts being misused as storage space
  • 70 percent believe there is inadequate access information on websites

Tanvi Vyas Project Manager of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Trailblazers, said:

“Although disabled people contribute up to £80billion to the UK economy per year, many businesses are still undervaluing and alienating disabled customers.

“Being able to use banks, post offices, shops or cafés is a necessity of everyday life. However, we continue to hear from many young disabled people who are unable to physically access premises, encounter unhelpful staff and find accessible facilities being misused – discouraging many from paying a return visit.

“There are plenty of simple measures that service providers can take. Displaying clear access information on websites, offering to carry a disabled customer’s items, or investing in a portable ramp costing as little as £60, can make all the difference to a disabled shopper’s high street experience.”

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