Leicester’s Highcross Shopping Centre celebrated Purple Tuesday on 13 November. It was a first for the Shopping Centre with a number of organizations such as Leicester City Council’s mental health and disability team with Mark and Cat, Vista for the Blind and others putting up their tables and displays in order to raise awareness amongst retailers to make the shopping experience of disabled people as user friendly as possible. The Highcross Shopping Centre sets an example in this regard.

Purple Tuesday is all about disability and mental health. Highcross prides itself, much due to the initiative of Tina Barton, the community manager at Highcross, of having a number of facilities for people with disabilities, ranging from a prayer room to a mother’s breastfeeding room with facilities for older siblings to play.

Purple Tuesday was celebrated in the UK for the first time in 2018. It is a worldwide awareness raising event highlighting the access for disabled people to shopping. Nearly one in every five people in the UK has a disability or impairment and over half of households have a connection to someone with a disability. And these figures are bound to rise.

It is estimated that the Purple Pound is worth 249 billion to the UK economy. This is a significant spending power. It is therefore important for retailers to make their premises as accessible as possible and thus the shopping experience for disabled people a positive one. However, this potential is not being fully realized yet. There are still real and perceived barriers for disabled people in regards of not only spending money in store but also online or enjoy a drink or meal out.

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 – Mike Adams

The Vista stall at Highcross – photo Dominika Pluta

Purple Tuesday at Highcross – photo Dominika Pluta

Purple Tuesday is a call for supermarkets and retailers to provide not only suitable wheelchair access to their premises but also ensure that there is enough available space in their aisles. This is particularly significant at times like Christmas where space is of prime importance. Mike Adams features on Twitter with his appeal to the retail sector.

Further reading:

YouTube and Purple Tuesday:

The Instagram hashtag #purpletuesday