Disability and parenting blogger Fi Anderson rounds up 5 accessible shopping centres to visit on Black Friday.
With Christmas fast approaching it’s needless to say the panic has set in to beat the queues for getting this year's top toys and other bits bound to fly off the shelf before we know it.
Black Friday, a fairly new phenomenon in the UK seems to have become everybody’s holy grail of Christmas bargain hunting in recent years. With rock bottom prices for high-end TVs, make-up, fashion accessories and so on, it’s no wonder people get a bit carried away when the clock strikes midnight! While online shopping has its place, there’s nothing quite like going out to a bustling shopping centre and seeing it all laid out in front of you, comparing items physically and making a day out of it with loved ones.
When you have a disability, Christmas shopping can be daunting. So here are 5 shopping centres that have the accessibility needed, giving you that peace of mind and to show retailers the power of the Purple Pound with the help of AccessAble Guides!
Attracting 36 million shoppers each year, the Bullring is a very popular choice for the Christmas season and a personal favourite of mine! Just a 4-minute walk from Birmingham New Street station, it’s ample transport links makes the location of this shopping centre ideal for wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility. If you happen to drive there is blue badge parking beneath the Bullring itself.
Staff at this shopping landmark take their disability training seriously and even advertise a member of staff trained in British Sign Language, which is quite a rare find! There is level access at all main entrances with either no doors to navigate or automatic, ideal for wheelchair users. Walls feature contrasting colours to aid those with visual impairments and seating at regular intervals. Accessible toilets can be found on all levels and I’m pleased to say they’ve recently installed a full Changing Places toilet which can be found on the Middle East Mall!
A decorative “village” of high-end brands such as ASOS, Superdry and Calvin Klein to name a few and some lovely little eateries to make it a proper day out.
Location wise it can be accessed by Ellesmere Port mainline but due to the more rural area for somebody with a disability it’d be easier by car. Parking is free for public use! Bright lighting is noted throughout the majority of shops and information points and there is lift access to all upper/lower levels. Do take note that the accessible toilets are located in car park B and C, but sadly only the later has a sufficient turning circle within for a wheelchair.
The Trafford Centre, Manchester
With 230 stores and 55 bars/restaurants, it’s no wonder it’s a hot spot for events like Black Friday! It can be easily accessed by bus from surrounding areas and has no end of lifts throughout the huge multi-story complex. Popular for its ODEON cinema that features audio described and autism-friendly screenings, also it’s huge M&S and NEXT stores that even provide wheelchairs to borrow! Due to the size of these megastores, there’s plenty of room to navigate in a wheelchair with few display obstructions in the aisles. Accessible toilets can be found throughout, as well as a Changing Places facility.
The Arndale, Manchester
Easily accessed via Manchester Victoria with just a short walk to the shopping centre itself. Full to the brim with top Christmas contenders such as the Apple and Disney stores, LEGO, Pandora, NEXT and all your fast food favourites in the food court. Ample lift access to all floors with audible announcers and contrasting colours. There is also a Shopmobility, where you can hire a powerchair/scooter for as little as £5!
Known for its cultural integrity, this shopping, eatery and entertainment complex is lovingly placed next to the River Thames making it a big tourist attraction! The Royal Festival Hall, a hotspot music venue in the complex provides its own Access Scheme in which concessionary tickets are free for carers, there is lift access to the Riverside Terrace where there are many restaurants to choose from and accessible toilets can be found in most areas of the centre.
If you want to know more before you go shopping, download the free AccessAble App to put those important access details right at your fingertips!