MANY of the issues facing high street stores, from business rate demands to online competition, are well-documented. But one area that is often overlooked is the issue of accessibility.
A new survey of 2,000 adults with some form of mental or physical disability shows more than four in 10 are unable to visit their local shops because there are facing barriers preventing a comfortable shopping experience. Issues range from narrow shopping aisles and doorways, to changing rooms being small and shops which have too many stairs. The challenges have been brought home in a new video created by Yorkshire Paralympian Hannah Cockroft MBE, who worked with Skipton Building Society to show just how inaccessible many shops are.
It’s not just about wheelchair accessibility either. Some stores are a nightmare for pushchairs or prams, loud music is a non-starter for some with autism or sensitive hearing - sometimes it’s just about having somewhere quiet to have a sit down between shopping.
Tackling the problem undoubtedly requires action from retailers - and those that design, build and lease shop premises. Addressing the issue will give such shops a better chance of securing the long-term future of their businesses – and high streets across the country.