In all measures, shopping is a therapeutic activity. The joy of reeling into a supermarket and scoring our favourite items upon sale are unbridled. It is rather easy for a lot of us to simply walk up to a section, pull out a pair of jeans and try it out in the trial room. However, more often than not, we fail to realise that a simple act of shopping, in fact, can be quite challenging for shoppers with disabilities.
India’s leading retailer, Big Bazaar, in its one of a kind initiative, “Sabke Liye” stresses on mainstreaming the inclusion of People with Disabilities (PWD) at shopping spaces. Big Bazaar in its steady commitment to make its shopping space accessible to PWDs pan India has rolled out a preview day for shoppers with disabilities & senior citizens on August 9th as part of their ‘Mahabachat campaign’ scheduled to go on from August 10th to August 15th. Differently-abled citizens will be able to enjoy all the ‘shopping discounts and offer’ one day in advance where they will also get shopping assistance, priority counter, home delivery, wheelchair upon request making the shopping experience truly “Sabke Liye (for all)”.
‘Mahabachat’ is the biggest festival of inclusivity that has been thought and executed at National level and is now being celebrated with so much exhilaration across the country. The event is going to take India by storm as the ‘preview sale’ is set to roll down in all the 367 stores pan India. It is the very first time that the country is going to witness an inclusivity festival blended brilliantly with the aspect of shopping. Far from tokenism, the giant retailer has powered up the majority of its outlets in the country with disability-friendly systems and highly sensitised staff. The Preview Big Bazaar booking link clearly lays out the wheelchair friendly stores in a transparent manner for shoppers with physical disabilities. To the rest of the country, it is a message that disability and people who are differently-abled exist among us and they must be accepted wholeheartedly. The Mahabachat frenzy has a compelling proposition with Rs 1200 cashback* on shopping of Rs 3000. Also, shoppers will get a 7% instant discount* when you shop with SBI credit and debit cards during the celebrations.
The Mahabachat festival also intends to have an equal stake of PWD on sales and discounts that were so far segregated (in an almost unsaid manner) only for Non-Disabled people. This time it is a call, more than an invitation, to the disabled shoppers to come and be present, to show themselves with pride. To get the message through to the shoppers with disabilities, even the invite has been created in a unique sign language with the voice over done by a person with blindness.
The shopper simply needs to book the Mahabachat invitation and fill up the necessary information.
Inclusivity, thus a journey for Big Bazaar, started with Republic Day preview sale for PWD on January 21st, 2019. Relaying the mission forward, since inclusivity is an ongoing affair, Big Bazaar had also observed “Quiet Hour” for shoppers with Intellectual disabilities on World Autism Day across sixteen Indian cities and ever since they have been making the premises of the supermarket light and sound sensitive for autistic people every Tuesday in selected stores.
The initiative by Big Bazaar is exemplary not just because it is innovative but also because it cares for that section of the society for whom being able to shop independently has been a distant dream. To quote that in terms of numbers, there were about 4000+ PWD who had shopped at Big Bazaar’s last activation for the first time in their lives. Enabling such a huge number of people at a place where they think they don’t belong conventionally instils a “feel-good factor” and surges a wave of inspiration for many to follow the lead. The initiative is well deserved because Big Bazaar is the first to come up with the idea of mainstreaming inclusion for everyone at a global pedestal. Inclusivity as a culture existed in the developed countries but this bold step has never before attempted where over 1,00,000 shoppers with disabilities are expected to participate in the power of shopping on a single day.
A shopping complex can be a place that offers its customers more than just things. It was proved a reality when Big Bazaar, not just offered a convenient shopping experience for PWD but also enabled priority counters, accessible trial rooms, accessible washrooms, wide aisles, shopping assistants and wheelchairs on request. Going the extra mile, besides making infrastructural changes, the retail giant also organised cooking and makeup tutorials for visually impaired people. It is a resounding nod to the fact that inclusion is, in fact, the first step to empowerment.
The idea of inclusion not just overwhelmed everyone but also won the hearts of its disabled shoppers. The response that was received by this initiative simply goes on to show that a simple gesture of kindness and an attitude of accommodating people and making public spaces like a shopping mall inclusive can go a long way in lighting up faces with hope and smiles. A testimony by Varsha Singh, a customer with visual impairment says it all. To the larger Non Disabled population, it tells you that Disabled’s exist & shop like anyone else.
This Independence Day will mark 72 years of freedom. In these 72 years of Independence, it is the first time that a lead has been taken to write another bold chapter for best inclusion practices. This festival is not just going to give the disables an opportunity to explore products and shop by themselves but it is also a huge message in general to normalise visibility of a disabled shopper. Every person with Disability is just like any other citizen of the country who wants to shop & enjoy the freedom of being in public spaces because beauty, fashion and shopping is for all.
The Logical Indian believes that real awareness in society would come when people with disabilities are visible at public spaces. The visibility not just creates awareness among the masses but being able to go out freely gives a sense of independence and autonomy among the differently-abled people. In this sense, ‘Sabke liye’ initiative by Big Bazaar comes off as a great gesture towards mainstreaming Inclusion because shopping is indeed for all- Sabke Liye. Making this an actuality for the old and disabled a wonderful way to democratise happiness. The humble beginning by Big Bazaar definitely lights a lamp of optimism and change to others to follow.