Retailers have made great strides in improving disabled access over the past few years but there is still much more that can be done.
Thousands of businesses are losing out on revenue by not offering adequate disabled access. The former Minister for Disabled People claimed last year that UK high streets could be overlooking £212 billion worth of spending power by not attracting disabled people and their families as disabled people represent one in every five customers.
However, businesses are also missing out on something potentially more beneficial than immediate revenue – building long-term customer loyalty. Research carried out last year by the lead sponsors of Disabled Access Day revealed an overwhelming 93% of disabled people would revisit a venue that has good accessibility. Over 90% of people surveyed also said that they try to look into a venue’s accessibility in advance of their visit.
Disabled Access Day is a national initiative created to raise awareness of the importance of disabled access and encourage venues to showcase their accessible facilities. The first Disabled Access Day took place on 17th January this year and was supported by over 200 companies and venues nationwide, which on the day were visited by over 1,000 disabled people and their families, friends and carers.
On the day, theatres held extra accessible performances, museums organised touch tours and coffee shops such as Caffè Nero offered free handcrafted coffee to those participating.
There was a whole host of notable event partners including Barclays, BT, VisitEngland, VisitScotland and venues including Ascot racecourse and the Houses of Parliament. The event was a resounding success for the disabled community and businesses alike.
Euan MacDonald, co-founder of the disabled access reviews website, Euansguide.com, the lead sponsor of Disabled Access Day, says: “EuansGuide.com is really proud to be supporting Disabled Access Day for the second year running. Not only will the initiative help to further raise awareness about disabled access provision, but it will also showcase the venues with good accessibility and highlight the commercial value that can be yielded from the UK’s 12.2 million disabled people and their carers, family & friends.”
With over 30,000 shops and restaurants out there, many retailers are clearly missing a trick in catering to the disabled community who as research shows, will stay loyal to those places that have good access due to the overall lack of accessibility nationwide.
Disabled Access Day generated a lot of interest on social media with over 410 million total media impressions. Its website had 11,000 unique visits during January, further proving that disabled access is an issue people want to be a part of, presenting a further opportunity for businesses to engage with the public and their local communities.
The next Disabled Access Day will take place on 12 March 2016 and given the success of the 2015 event, more companies are sure to get on board and reach out to the ‘purple pound’ community.
Venues are asked to take part by hosting an event or simply opening their doors to show that they welcome disabled visitors and their friends and families. Whether it is a cinema offering free popcorn, a supermarket café offering a free coffee, or a clothing retailer offering personal styling sessions, there are plenty of ways for businesses to get involved. There are over 200 days to go until the next Disabled Access Day, more than enough time to sign up and spread the word.
To find out more or even participate next year, register at DisabledAcessDay.com.