Travel sector losing out by ‘shunning’ disabled customers

UK businesses including the travel industry are losing millions of pounds of revenue every year by shunning disabled consumers, new research claims.

More than 13 million people in the UK – a fifth of the population – are disabled, and the poll of people who consider themselves to be disabled reveals today that respondents spend on average £98 with travel firms every month.

But more than half are struggling to make purchases of a product/service due to their disability.

Disabled young people (aged 16-24) fare the worst – more than three-quarters of them say they have found it difficult to buy goods online or in person due to their disability on more than one occasion.

Some four in five disabled customers say businesses could do more to be accessible – and just 5% say travel businesses are the most accessible to purchase from.

More than half (56%) agreed that improving staff understanding about different disabilities would encourage them to spend their disposable income, estimated to be a collective £249 billion a year.

The study by disability organisation Purple comes as firms prepare for ‘Purple Tuesday’ on November 12, a day which celebrates UK companies that are improving the customer experience for disabled shoppers.

Respondents state that retail is the most accessible business to purchase from, followed by banking and hospitality/leisure/restaurants.

Separate research has shown that 75% of disabled people have had to leave a store or website, unable to go through with their purchase because of their disability.

Disabled consumers said that inaccessible and unusable locations, poor customer service and a lack of understanding about disabilities were the main reasons they struggled to spend their money.

More than one in five said that hiring more disabled staff would make them more likely to make a purchase and some stated that “wider aisles” or “lighter doors” would have the same effect.

Purple chief executive Mike Adams said: “While many UK businesses and organisations are stepping up to the mark and making the changes needed to improve disabled customers’ experiences, far too many are not.

“This is a huge mistake, not least because by turning their backs on disabled shoppers, they are losing out on millions of pounds of revenue every year.

“It should simply not be the case that one in two disabled people struggle to make purchases online or in person. Small changes can make a big difference to the customer experience; we want to help organisations have the confidence to improve their services for disabled people.”


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