We’re on a mission to ensure our retail destinations have a positive impact on the communities surrounding them. Which is why getting involved in Purple Tuesday on 13 th November was a given
for us.

It’s the UK’s first accessible shopping day and encourages landlords and retailers across the nation and online – to introduce new measures to make the shopping experience more inclusive for customers with disabilities.

It’s the right thing to do plus estimates put the collective spending power of disabled people and their families – dubbed the ‘Purple Pound’ by disability organisation Purple – 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, and the latest Scottish Household Survey showed that people with disabilities or long-term health conditions reported lower levels of attendance at cultural events or places.

These issues are felt even more acutely in the peak Christmas shopping period when we all have to cope with more crowds, which can make our shopping experiences a bit more challenging than usual.

Equally important, but often overlooked, is the non-economic value that retail destinations can have for the disabled community, and that includes family, friends and carers. Our research shows that 88% of the Scottish public believe that shopping centres play an important role within local communities. For carers, this is particularly significant; 67% of carers say that shopping helps them to feel part of the community (versus a national average of 55%), and three quarters say that interactions when shopping are good for mental health (compared to a 71% national average). The public in Scotland is overwhelmingly supportive of inclusive measures in shopping centres, with 97% agreeing that it is important for retail destinations to respect and cater for people with disabilities or impairments.

As proud supporters of Purple Tuesday, our shopping centres in Scotland and elsewhere around the UK are participating in lots of different ways.

As well as promoting our existing shop mobility facilities in centres such as Silverburn in Glasgow, in Union Square, Aberdeen, Guide Dogs charity representatives will be providing people with educational walks, showing how they can help those with different disabilities to move around the

Wherever possible the centres will be using purple feature lighting for the day and centre teams will wear purple ribbons to raise awareness. We are also providing specialist training for our customer facing centre teams and retailers to make sure everyone is disability confident on the day and well equipped to help all our visitors.

But this isn’t just about one day. Perhaps more importantly, we’re also trialling longer-term initiatives, to determine the most sustainable and impactful commitments that will make our centres as accessible and welcoming as possible. ‘Quiet hour’ has already been implemented across our UK portfolio to promote a more accessible retail experience for those with sensory disabilities and in Silverburn we are opening a dedicated Quiet Room which will aim to improve our centre offer for autistic visitors.

We’re really pleased with the progress we’re making but we know there’s much more to be done.

Our assets have significant material impacts on the landscape, the environment, their local communities and local and regional economies. Such significant impacts must be managed responsibly, through real collaboration with our suppliers and clients; with respect for their local communities and with enough ambition to make them fit for the future generations they will serve. Ultimately, it’s vital that community hubs such as major retail destinations are as accessible and enjoyable as possible for all members of society, and we look forward to warmly welcoming many Able magazine readers to our centres in the future.

The spending power of disabled people and their families, Department for Work & Pensions, December 2016

Scottish household survey 2016: annual report, Scottish Government Housing and Social Justice Directorate, September 2017

Hammerson Research – Methodology

This research was conducted online by FTI’s Strategy Consulting & Research team, from 11th – 14th September 2018, with n=3,120 adults representative of the UK general population. Further information on the results and methodology can be obtained by emailing:  dan.healy@fticonsulting.com