Shopping in a wheelchair is a challenge

Shopping in a wheelchair is a challenge

Hmm, minor problem in front of me

If you find walking easy then I am going to issue a challenge, go shopping in a wheelchair. Before you leave don’t forget to tie your legs together. You must go out on your own and don’t forget a shopping list or shopping bag. You will need some cash, credit cards and your mobile phone.

Recognise these problems?

In my town too many shops have steps. Okay that is great because Daleks cannot go in and exterminate the staff but neither can I go in to browse around or buy anything. These shops include restaurants, coffee shops, charity shops, physiotherapists and opticians. Are you shocked? The NHS dentist in town also has steps but at least it has grab rails.

Another problem

Some shops have heavy doors which need to be pulled open, impossible in a wheelchair. Why is there never a magic button that will automatically open the door. Instead, lets just hope the assistant inside the shop can rush out and help.

The supermarket looks like an easy option

There are no steps to get in and no heavy doors to open either. Its not until the very thing you want is tantalisingly out of reach on the top shelf. Maybe there is only one bag of frozen peas left and your arms are too short to reach them. In my experience a member of the general public will help overcome these awkward moments.

OK shopping complete now its time to pay.  Unpack the shopping from the basket and then pack into your shopping bag. Inevitably the soft and squishy items are now at the bottom and heavy tins at the top. Where did you put your credit cards? While you pack and pay the queue of shoppers are tut-tutting and none of them offer to help.

All done, the shopping bag is only just big enough but how do you carry it?

Maybe online shopping for groceries is easier even with substitutions.

Shopping in a wheelchair is a challenge

Different set of problems

Crossing the road

Nipping over the road to browse around another shop is a definite no-no. Now you understand the reason for dropped kerbs and why people wait patiently for the green man at traffic lights.

Next your phone rings but it is in the back pocket of your jeans. No chance of answering, hope the caller leaves a message.

Crowded shops

People are not the only obstacle in shops. Sometimes the aisles are too narrow or the corners too tight to navigate. Such a silly mistake going into that shop, there is not even space to turn around. OK, go out backwards but that is easier said than done. Of course, peoples’ ankles get in the way so now you are glowered at as you try to apologise. Whose idea was it to go shopping?

Shopping in a wheelchair

Yup, shopping in a wheelchair is not quite so straight forward. Too easy to have a major rant and even do a name and shame. I don’t think that will have any impact but I will use Twitter (@aid4disabled). Instead, I quietly take my money to shops where there are fewer problems.

Associated articles

Suffering from consequences of panic buying






Walking round the supermarket with a trolley






January 2022

6 responses to “Shopping in a wheelchair is a challenge”

  1. Allan McMillan says:

    Our local fitness centre was refurbished, but neither the Parkinson’s nor the MS users were asked to look at the plans. We have back-to-back exercise classes.
    We found that the classes were to be moved to a room passed three inward swinging doors and up a short flight of stairs. Local management saw a problem and installed a lift for the stairs.
    Inevitably it took half an hour for Parkinson’s to come down the lift and MSers to go up. So we now use a (not ideal) corner of the main Gym Hall.
    Everyone Active had of course followed all the guidelines.

    • Hello Allan,

      Obviously not an ideal solution. Sort of got it right in the end via a compromise and I suspect and lot of anger and frustration.

      I have to ask why no consultation in the first place. Yet another example of the disabled being shoved to the back of the queue. A total lack of understanding. Total lack of consideration and thought to access makes me so cross

  2. Dr. MC Black says:

    Threshold Ramps are available in different sizes and are fairly inexpensive.

    Local authorities should require all businesses to have threshold ramps (they can be taken indoors when shop is closed so NOT stolen by yobs)

    When I go shopping, I put the hard things on the belt first and the squishy things at the end so, provided the cashier takes the purchases off of the belt in order (they don’t always!) they are packed in the bag with the squishy thing at the top.

    In your situation, are there any supermarkets with a Carry to Car Service? If it’s your wife’s car that’s parked at your home, it still entitles you to “Carry to car”! The carrier may also push you in your chair up the hill! I do know where you live!

    • Hello MC,

      Lots of questions.

      Getting a ramp is possible when step outside shop but never enough space when step inside shop. Also how easy is it to get someone’s attention to get a rymp to get into shop when its full of customers then not enough space to move around. Much happier taking my business else here. Lovely idea that all shops should have ramps, who is going to check that, certainly not councils cos they don’t have enough money or time.

      Life is much easier when it is possible to do things like unpack items onto supermarket belt when not on a wheelchair. I go shopping for food on my own on my Travelscoot, too complicated to explain why except that someone must be in the house all the time. I’m not allowed to drive. Finally I’m the cook so I buy the food, called distribution of labour

      Yes it is a very unfair world especially when disabled and or broke

  3. Judy Graham says:

    Sadly, all too true! I gave up shopping in person a few years ago. Now do everything online – so much easier.

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