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November 20, 2018

A big thank you from the Purple team

Wow. Amazing. Extraordinary. A few of the comments from the Purple Tuesday team as Purple Tuesday unfolded this time last week. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to see so much activity – right across the UK – by so many people and their organisations (we had over 700 organisations register an interest, which attracted so much national and local media. The day brought together organisations, their staff, disabled people and their representative organisations in a common cause to increase the accessibility of the retail sector. This benefits disabled people (as customers and potential employees) and retailers accessing the Purple Pound.

The day was achieved through relentless hard work, determination, the involvement of committed partners and a little bit of luck and fortune along the way – the day sneaked in just before the Brexit deal was announced!

There are so many people to thank:

  • All of you for the innovation, creativity and enthusiasm in turning your store, outlet, shopping centre and high street purple. The winners of the best social media picture, video and comment to follow shortly
  • The Planning Group for their leadership, ownership and guidance throughout this year’s Purple Tuesday. And for gently bringing me back down to earth when some of my idea’s were stratospheric (and unrealistic!)
  • Sam Sen, the Retail Sector Champion for her role in ensuring the day was aligned to the needs and aspirations of the retail sector
  • Sarah Newton, the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work for her relentless support and assistance in promoting Purple Tuesday as an independent initiative
  • Matt Willatt for his design work of all resources and iconic image for the Piccadilly Lights
  • Landsec for making Piccadilly Lights happen
  • Antidote for their PR and comms advice and their work with Purple to secure such a wide range of national media. A special mention to Aimen Chouchane, who helped Purple initially to launch Purple Tuesday and contributed significantly to the original concept and materials
  • We Are Fred for producing the training video, re-launching the purpletuesday.org.uk website and following me around all day on Purple Tuesday shooting film and taking photographs

The biggest thank you however is to all of you. We have always said Purple Tuesday is about bringing people together to raise awareness and instigate long term change, and as I looked through the social media, emails and messages coming through, it felt like that had been achieved.

I say the start of course because Purple Tuesday was never about one day. The biggest thank you of all will be to all of you for the delivering of your commitments over the next 12 months, and for pledging your support in making next years Purple Tuesday even bigger and better!

Mike Adams OBE

CEO, Purple

November 12, 2018

A final call to action from Mike Adams

When I was growing up my disabled peers instilled in me the adage: ‘Nothing about us, without us’. In other words, issues of disability should centrally involve the lived experience of disabled people and their representative organisations.

Tomorrow, Purple Tuesday will model a modern-day version of that adage. If retail is to improve the accessibility of the shopping experience for disabled people and their families then awareness needs to be raised and the right commitments undertaken. This should be done alongside disabled people. And this is exactly what we are doing.

Purple Tuesday is not simply about one day. It is what follows over the next 364 days and beyond.

Therefore, it felt fitting to use my final blog to showcase the voices of other disabled people and their representative organisations.

Claire Bickley from Sight Loss Councils says:

“Shopping is an experience everyone should enjoy.  As blind and partially sighted people we want retailers to recognise us as valued customers and making some small changes could go a huge way in improving our experience.  On Purple Tuesday we will be visiting retailers at the Bullring in Birmingham to ask them about how they support people with sight loss who visit their shops.

We hope as many shops get on board with Purple Tuesday and recognise the power of the purple pound!”

Purple Tuesday has really shone a light on the issue of hidden disability and so we are delighted to be supported by Kathryn Albany-Ward, CEO of Colour Blind Awareness. Kathryn highlights the sensitivities and practicalities of even the colour purple:

“Despite the irony that most of the 3 million people in the UK that Colour Blind Awareness represents have never experienced the colour purple, we are fully behind Purple Tuesday. It’s a fantastic opportunity to highlight to retailers and landlords how they can generate additional turnover just by taking some simple steps. Here’s an opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives by ensuring an inclusive retail experience everyone, including those with hidden disabilities such as with colour blindness. In these competitive and uncertain times can you afford not to? Today isn’t about jumping onto bandwagons, so make the most of it.”

Pan-disability organisations are also showing their fill support. Clare Grey, Disability Advocacy Advisor at the Shaw Trust commented:

“Shaw Trust welcomes the opportunity to be involved and to support this vitally important initiative. As a charity that works extensively in this arena, we believe that it is intrinsic to our mission and values as an organisation that we do everything possible to achieve equality of opportunity and improve accessibility for all. We are sure the day will be a roaring success and we hope that this event helps to drive the change that makes accessibility a reality on Britain’s high streets.”  

Organisations that provide a vital transport link to and from shopping destinations are also fully supportive of Purple Tuesday. David Bermingham, CEO of Accessible Transport has said:

‘We, the Accessible Transport Group (ATG) are a charity dedicated to supporting people across the West Midlands who have mobility restrictions, whether physical, mental or sensory. We are promoting our Ring and Ride service, igo Community bus routes and Birmingham Shopmobility to help make this event a success and raise awareness of accessibility’. David Bermingham Chief Executive.

AccessAble (formerly Disabled Go) have recently published a survey involving 845 disabled people right across the UK, about the quality of information provided by venues, only 14% of recipients felt they received the quality of information required with 77% of respondents having left a venue after finding accessibility wasn’t what they expected. A challenge but straightforward to make a significant difference. Barry Stevenson, Chair of AccessAble commented:

“We fully support Purple Tuesday and hope it will raise awareness of the barriers disabled people and carers face. Our recent survey has shown the overwhelming need for better accessibility information to enable people to find the places that are right for them. We hope that this need for information is viewed alongside staff training, physical access improvements and inclusive employment practices to create a more inclusive shopping experience for all.”

Tomorrow is the big day. Let’s work together to shine a light on accessibility and the importance of making the shopping experience inclusive for all.

November 5, 2018

Blog: Purple cakes and mannequins – What does Purple Tuesday look like?

When we first started out we thought, if we were lucky, we would have about 50 organisations involved in Purple Tuesday. As a new venture, we knew it was the right thing to do and knew it had potential but could only dream of having the platform of Sky News and the success of 100s of sign-ups. At just over 500 registrations of interest, we have well and truly surpassed even what was in our dreams!

I have spoken to many of you electronically and read your survey responses. The pledges and commitments you are making will ensure the impact will be so much more than just one day. And many more of you are not stopping at just one commitment but are putting in place a series of actions to transform the shopping experience for disabled people and their families. There are too many to list, but here are some of the commitments we have been told of:

  • Those who have previously introduced quiet hours are changing the day and time to make it a more prominent part of their customer offer
  • Organisations are refreshing their training offer (Hello, can I help you?) to include disability modules
  • Many of you are undertaking web accessibility audits
  • Organisations already surveying customers want to include accessibility questions going forward
  • Some of you are using the 13 November as the day to launch pre-planned initiatives which will improve the customer experience

As well as these commitments, I have also seen so many exciting plans for the day itself, from purple cakes being served in cafes to purple lighting, information stands hosted by local disability organisations to purple dressed mannequins – we even have a special edition purple version of a shopping centre logo in recognition of the day!

Alongside those directly involved in retail we have received a huge level of support from disabled people and their representative organisations. Our direct call to action to this important group is also going out so we will be able to share with you the direct experience of disabled people when they shop. We are also delighted so many local authorities, wider community groups and others are so keen to get involved in any way they can.

I, and the rest of Purple, are so excited about Purple Tuesday. Not just for the day itself, but for what it can achieve. We have always said this is not about one day. The 13thNovember is about raising awareness to instigate longer term change for the benefit of all.

Together, I truly believe we are and will create something really special.

Kristine Alderman

Corporate Services Manager, Purple

October 26, 2018

Blog: Why disability is important to retail

Last week Mike Adams talked about the origin of Purple Tuesday, and why it is so important to him and disabled people.

As Retail Sector Champion, I wanted to say a few words about why disability is important to retail.

As Co-Chair of the Government’s retail roundtable I can say I was there when Mike first made the suggestion last November. It was a fantastic idea and an easy proposition for everyone to support. And the number of retail outlets, shopping centres and landlords signing up every day reinforces the willingness of retail, as a whole, to make the shopping and leisure experiences a pleasure for everyone.

At Revo, we launched our Accessible Places toolkit containing a range of practical resources, supporting the sector navigate its way through issues of disability. In so many ways, Purple Tuesday is a natural extension of this, with retail companies making public commitments to introduce at least one new initiative – and to embed it into the DNA of what they do. I have been amazed and humbled by the ideas and creativity in equal measure. From organisations who are supporting their staff to learn hello and goodbye in British sign language, commitments to reflect disability and disabled people in marketing campaigns, the creation of a disability module, through to an audit of website accessibility and commitments to improve signage.

Collectively, these commitments will make a huge impact. The retail sector can have such an enormous part to play in making retail places up and down the country inclusive and welcoming to people and families with disabilities.

I am proud to be associated with Purple Tuesday and so should you.

Samantha Sen

Retail Sector Champion for Disability

October 22, 2018

Blog: Let’s turn the UK purple together

With 24 days to go until the first Purple Tuesday, I continue to be astounded by how much interest and support we are receiving. The last three months have been a whirlwind, from our launch on Sky News (which we could not have anticipated, and which catapulted a vision into a reality) to today when we are at over 300 registrations of interest and expecting upwards of 500 organisations on the day. I have spoken to many of you already and am committed to speaking to as many of you personally as possible either before, during or immediately after Purple Tuesday.

I am first and foremost a CEO and business leader in my own right, but as a disabled man Purple Tuesday will always be about more than it just making business sense.

During my childhood disabled people were in many ways not to be seen, or if we were, were seen as beneficiaries of charity and users of welfare and care. I used to get taken on my school ‘happy bus’ as we called it, from my special school in Sussex once a month to the nearby town where we were taken into one shop as a ‘treat’ and able to spend any pocket money our parents had provided. The shop and town itself treated our arrival like a special event. I very much felt a disabled person, rather than a person first who happened to have a disability.

Fast forward to 2018, and the world is a very different place for sure. Our towns and shops are far more accessible, and I believe I am generally treated the same as people who do not have a disability. But I still feel a sense of trepidation. Shop staff are still unsure of engaging with me – not because of prejudice, but a fear of unintentionally offending me through the wrong language or etiquette. This results in them swerving the conversation altogether. This can make life feel ‘very disabled’ when I go shopping. Physical access still remains an issue for me. Many stores have wheelchair access now, which is great, but it’s when you get inside the difficulties can start with crowded layouts making it very difficult to get around without damaging anything. Essentially my shopping experience can be stressful, which in turn puts me off going (if you put aside the fact I don’t like shopping anyway!), which in turn means I potentially don’t make purchases.

These experiences are not unique to me which is why I created Purple. A company that for the first time would uniquely bring together an understanding of disability and an understanding of business, with a vision and mission to create true societal change for the benefit of both.

Purple Tuesday is an embodiment of that vision. It will bring together disabled consumers with retailers to raise awareness of the barriers and experiences of disabled people, whilst also fully acknowledging it is not about one day. It is about a commitment to accessible services and understanding the challenges business also face. True change doesn’t happen in one day or overnight.

I truly believe we are on the brink of something big which can make a difference to the everyday lives of disabled people as well as the wider business cultural attitudes towards disability. We have already had international interest in the day and we can show the world how its done, firmly establishing the UK as leaders in this field.

So let’s do this. Let’s make 2018 the year of the first accessible shopping day, and the catalyst for making the UK a more accessible place.

Mike Adams OBE

Chief Executive Officer, Purple


To register your interest to take part in Purple Tuesday, please visit purpletuesday.org.uk

Already registered for Purple Tuesday, but want to find out more about how Purple can support you to deliver your commitment to improve accessibility? Please click here to find out more about Purple’s membership offer.


September 4, 2018

Why Purple Tuesday is so important – Webinar

In our latest webinar Mike Adams, CEO of Purple and Sam Sen, Retail Sector Champion, talk about Why Purple Tuesday is so important and how the sector can get involved in turning the UK purple on 13th November.

August 21, 2018

Blog: One week on – launching Purple Tuesday

It is now a week since Purple Tuesday was launched with the help of Sky News. All the planning in the world doesn’t necessarily prepare you for what is to follow. Overall, the coverage has been brilliant, the key messages have been conveyed well and the response and interest has been hugely encouraging. And if you have been in touch, thank you and I assure you we will get back to you very soon.

So back to last week. I was given three hours’ notice the film crew were coming – apparently this is a long time in the news industry. So there was no time to get my long awaited haircut, or for much prep, before I was in front of the cameras in the middle of Chelmsford high street – and throughout the filming it rained which just added to my unrefined appearance!

For those that missed it, Purple Tuesday on 13th November 2018 will be the UK’s first accessible shopping day. It is a call to action to the wider retail industry (including shopping centres and landlords) to better understand the needs of their existing and future disabled customers and commit to making lasting changes to their shopping experience. Why? Well, first of all it’s the right thing to do. But it also presents an obvious commercial opportunity to win and retain more loyal customers.

At its heart, Purple Tuesday is much, much more than a shopping event. It’s really about raising awareness. 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a shop or left a website due to poor access and/or poor customer service. Common sense will tell you that is not right, or acceptable for disabled people, or for businesses who are simply passing up a share of the £249 billion Purple Pound – the consumer spending power of disabled people and their families – for not putting in place what are often straightforward changes to both the physical environment and approaches to customer service.

I have seen a number of people point out that “every day should be Purple Tuesday.” We couldn’t agree more. Purple Tuesday is our way of supporting the retail sector to improve the shopping experience for disabled people and their families. As a disabled shopper myself, I want to be reassured that I can get parked, I can easily get around the high street or shopping centre, I can go to the toilet in accessible facilities and when I walk into a shop I am made to feel like a valued customer who will leave having had a positive experience (and spent my money).

I want my first thought to be ‘I will go back’. I want to have these same feelings when I am shopping online. Online shopping opens up a huge gateway but so often that gate is unnecessarily shut for disabled people. Purple Tuesday is about generating greater awareness and for promoting ways to keep the gate permanently open. (These points have been well made by our friends at Scope – please do check out Chief Executive Mark Atkinson’s excellent HuffPost piece.)

At a shopping centre manager conference held earlier this year by Revo I announced our Purple Tuesday intentions and a participant rightly reminded me that whatever happened this must not turn into a ‘special one off’ day for disabled people. This has always been at front of mind for everyone involved in planning this initiative. Whatever we do on 13th November must lead to a sustainable change in the following 364 days and beyond. For that reason we have discounted ideas such as increased accessible parking spaces on the day or one-off discounts for disabled people. If retailers want to introduce a quiet hour they would need to commit to having it on a regular basis as part of ‘business as usual’. If retailers want to introduce mystery shopping using disabled people – with a range of impairments – that this needs to become part of the fabric of what they do year after year.

But we also recognise full change can’t and won’t necessarily happen overnight. Retailers, and business generally, have their own challenges whether it’s budgetary, spatially, technology – change takes time, but it’s about a recognition of the need and the opportunity, and most importantly a commitment to make products and services accessible to all.

Purple Tuesday is not about being prescriptive with those who sign up. Over the coming weeks we will be producing a range of resources which retailers can then use. We will be sharing the art of the possible and examples of what others are doing to raise awareness and improve accessibility. The Purple Tuesday team are producing a short customer service video we hope will be accessed by all staff in participating organisations raising awareness and practical actions for them to improve their customer service. The acid test: when I go into a participating shop the following week and the frontline member of staff comes up to me and says “Hello, can I help you?”

Purple Tuesday was the vision of Purple, and we, with a range of others, are co-ordinating its implementation. Purple was established to address inequality for disabled people by working with disabled people, supporting businesses to build their disability capability and bringing the two communities together to find the solutions of tomorrow.

Purple Tuesday is a high-profile test of delivering that vision. Purple Tuesday will work in partnership with disability organisations and disabled people to make it happen. It is about bringing to life the ‘nothing about us, without us’ principle, working in concert with all others who share the vision. We will shortly be introducing a ‘suggestion box’ to our Purple Tuesday website so we can harness the lived experience of disabled people and bring case studies to the organisations taking part in Purple Tuesday. Tell us what you think the solutions are and be a part of making the retail sector more accessible.

The launch of Purple Tuesday has interrupted my series of blogs on my holiday and experiences of being a disabled traveller. In my first one I explained the experience of mistaken identity when people up and down Vietnam thought I was an Australian evangelist and motivational speaker! At the end of last week, I was stopped by someone at the railway station who looked at me quizzically and said ‘you’re the Purple Tuesday bloke’ – not quite, but at least the word is getting out!

Mike Adams OBE

Chief Executive Officer, Purple

For more information about Purple Tuesday and how to register an interest, go to purpletuesday.org.uk

Oh, and if you’re on Twitter please give us a follow – @purpletuesdayuk

August 14, 2018

Retailers urged to sign up to ‘Purple Tuesday’ – the UK’s first ever accessible shopping day

London, Tuesday 14th August – The UK’s first day dedicated to accessible shopping will take place during the run up to Christmas 2018. ‘Purple Tuesday’ on Tuesday 13th November will see retailers across the country – and online – introduce new measures to make the shopping experience more inclusive for disabled customers.

The initiative is being co-ordinated by the disability organisation Purple and has been endorsed by the government. Leading brands including Argos, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer have already pledged their support, as have owners of some of the UK’s busiest shopping destinations such as The Crown Estate, Landsec (Bluewater) and Hammerson (Birmingham Bullring).

Estimates put the collective spending power of disabled people and their families (the ‘Purple Pound’) at £249bn. However, research by the Department for Work and Pensions puts both shopping and eating and drinking out in the top three most difficult experiences for disabled people based on accessibility.

These issues are felt more acutely in the peak Christmas shopping period. A poll of 200 disabled people by Purple back in December found that more than one in two disabled people were concerned about overcrowding. A similar proportion said they have left a store or abandoned a purchase because of a poor customer experience.

Purple Tuesday will also promote accessible e-commerce. The Click-Away Pound survey suggests that retailers are missing out on significant volumes of online sales. In 2016, inaccessible websites and apps accounted for an estimated £11.75 billion in lost revenue in the UK alone.

The organisers are calling on more retailers to join them in signing up to take part on the day and to look at how they can delight their disabled customers – in-store or online – and reap the commercial benefits.

“There’s a vast array of adjustments retailers can make that will have a significant impact, and many that can be implemented quickly,” explains Mike Adams, CEO of Purple. “Customer service is a perfect example – 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. Fundamentally, Purple Tuesday isn’t about a single day in the year but encouraging lasting change that creates a virtuous circle between businesses and disabled consumers.”

Jo Moran, Head of Customer Service at Marks & Spencer said: “The accessibility of our stores and website is extremely important to us, so we’re delighted to support Purple Tuesday. Taking place in the run up to Christmas it’s a great opportunity for us to refresh our training with colleagues to ensure we’re offering the best possible service for all our customers.”

Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary & Corporate Services Director for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re extremely proud to be supporting Purple Tuesday. As part of our vision to be the most inclusive retailer, we are always looking for ways to improve and adapt to meet our customers’ needs, which was brought to light with Sainsbury’s achieving Disability Confident Leader Status last year. By taking steps towards improving accessible shopping during the busiest shopping period of the year, we hope to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges, while also providing an enhanced shopping experience for our disabled customers.”

The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Sarah Newton, said: “Shopping should be a pleasant experience, but for many disabled people it can often be the cause of distress and frustration. By failing to cater to their disabled customers, many businesses are missing out on billions of pounds and denying disabled people the opportunity to enjoy something which many people take for granted.

“I look forward to working alongside Purple and members of my Disability Retail Forum on this hugely important agenda, highlighting examples of best practice in the retail sector and encouraging others to make small changes which can make a massive difference to their customers.”

Russell Loveland, Landsec’s Senior Portfolio Director, Retail, said: “Purple Tuesday is a brilliant initiative, which Landsec is very proud to support. We’re committed to improving the experience of shopping for disabled guests at our retail destinations.”

Mark Bourgeois, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Hammerson, said: “As curators and managers of destinations, it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone in the community feels comfortable using them. Our centres are focal points within cities and it is important that they are accessible to all. Purple Tuesday is a welcome opportunity and one we are thoroughly supportive of.”

The full list of participating businesses and Purple Tuesday events will be announced in October. For more information please visit purpletuesday.org.uk

Full list of launch organisations:

  • Argos
  • Asda
  • Barclays
  • British Retail Consortium
  • Contacta
  • Hammerson
  • Landsec
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Purple
  • Revo
  • Sainsbury’s
  • The Crown Estate
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