Last year the UK’s first ever accessible shopping day took place on 13th November and here at Sainsbury’s and Argos, we were proud to be a part of it. The shopping environment can be an overwhelming place for everyone, in particular those with disabilities. It’s a great to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges our customers with disabilities may face.
What is Purple Tuesday?
We are delighted to be working with the disability organisation, Purple, to shine the light on accessible shopping. Founded by CEO of Purple Mike Adams, Purple Tuesday has been launched to recognise and understand the challenges that disabled customers face on a daily basis, while encouraging businesses to take steps towards making shopping a more inclusive experience that everyone can enjoy in the long term.
Nearly one in every five people in the UK has a disability or impairment and with our ambition to be the most inclusive retailer in the UK, we are always looking for new ways to adapt and improve to meet all of our customers’ needs. Find out more about the steps we are taking below…
Sainsbury's launched a sunflower lanyard trial in Barnstaple early last year.
What are Sainsbury’s and Argos doing to make the shopping experience more inclusive?
In September last year, we announced an extension of a new trial which looks to enhance the shopping experience for customers with hidden disabilities. The scheme enables customers to pick up a sunflower lanyard which has been purposely designed to act as a discreet sign for store colleagues to recognise if they may need to provide a customer with additional support when in store. Sainsbury’s is the first retailer to trial this initiative in ten stores across the UK and the trial has seen a really positive response from customers to date.
We were delighted that all 1,412 of our stores took part in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour in 2018, following the success of over 600 stores participating in 2017. In 2018, three autism hours were held throughout Autism Awareness week, with stores working to create a calmer environment by dimming the lights and turning down the tannoy, self-checkout sounds and café music.
“As part of our vision to be the most inclusive retailer, we are always looking at new ways to ensure our colleagues and customers feel as comfortable as possible in our stores.”
- Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary & Corporate Services Director for Sainsbury’s
Accessible toilet facilities play a very important role in helping to ensure that all our customers feel comfortable when shopping with us. With the help of a number of charity partners, we’re in the process of updating all of our toilet amenities to make facilities more inclusive.
Sainsbury’s was the first supermarket to implement stoma friendly toilets in stores across the UK. We have also installed clear ‘Way Out’ signage to enable customers with dementia to quickly find the exit, while also making the route clearer to all customers. Alongside this we have worked to change the signage of our accessible toilets to reflect the ‘invisible nature’ of some health conditions.
Enhancing the shopping experience
We always encourage stores to trial different approaches so that they can improve the shopping experience for more vulnerable customers in their local community. One example, is our recent trial of a relaxed shopping lane in our Sainsbury's Prestwick store and slow shopping in our Gosforth store. Both trials were successful, and are now permanent initiatives in those stores.
Shopping online with Sainsbury's and Argos
As well as making improvements in store, we also recognise that shopping online can present challenges for our customers and want to make the process as easy as possible for everyone. We ask for regular feedback and invite customers to get involved with improving the design accessibility of our websites and groceries app. We host regular accessibility awareness training and courses for our digital product teams.