Why People in Wheelchairs Can Only Shop Online During the Holidays

Holiday shopping is in full swing and the malls are jam-packed with eager holiday shoppers. Santa is in town and there are plenty of great deals available. But there are some people who are not able to enjoy the shopping this time of year and it has nothing to do with their finances.

While holiday shopping online is more convenient, and less stressful for many, shopping in  malls is a fun, joyous, and entertaining pastime for most families. People are naturally drawn to the lights and the festive feeling of the season.

So why should people, who have a physical disability, not be able to enjoy this time also? The answer is simple–businesses and marketing agencies do not make it a point to include them. The CEO’s and strategists of these shops plan Christmas well in advance. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started planning the following years’ Christmas the day after Christmas!

Here’s why people with physical disabilities should not or cannot shop in stores during the prime holiday season.

Aisles crowded with items – Last-minute gifts and useless junk, that no one has any need for, are plentiful. Capitalism at its best. Boxes, cartons, and crates are everywhere and so are extravagant displays inviting shoppers to enter the store. There are government rules for access to public buildings, such as ramps and accessible restrooms, but where is the regulation for access to retail stores? After all, these are public shops. Right?

Inconvenient – Store employees are busy with the crowds. People in wheelchairs are left to navigate the aisles alone and perhaps wonder how they will get that sweater down from the top shelf. Even more frustrating is the idea of trying to get the salesperson’s attention over a sales counter stacked to the hilt with pointless junk; a.k.a. “stocking-stuffers.”

Parking is ridiculous – Handicapped spaces are taken by insensitive, physically fit people, who manage to finagle a handicapped sign and hang it on the review mirror. Even if that is not the case, there are just not enough of these spaces to go around on a crowded Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

People are just plain rude – Especially, the last-minute shopper that takes everyone down. You know the type…the pushy, irritated person, (man or woman doesn’t matter) walking fast with all the bags he or she can carry, bumping, and banging into everyone and everything. Look out because that person is a demon without a plan.

Accommodations and convenient access to stores for people who have a disability are challenging enough on a good day, let alone a day where the crowds are at their best; or worst depending on the store or their mood.

There should be more of a thought process to include everyone in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, this is a form of discrimination that is often overlooked.

Thank goodness for online shopping because for people confined to a wheelchair or scooter, shopping in stores would make anyone want to say, “Bah-Humbug.”


  • This is actually something I identify with all year ’round. Although I don’t use a wheelchair, I do have issues with chronic pain and nerve damage. I had to start using a walking stick or a motorized cart a lot more often. I don’t have a handicapped placard– I don’t think that’s necessary, yet– but my father does, and I know even he chooses to use it sparingly.

    What annoys me is able twentysomethings who think riding the carts is cute and amusing, especially when they’ve taken the last one available. One time, I was shopping for a much needed winter coat (I didn’t even have one to wear at the time), and when I got up to search through the selection more closely, a young woman sat down in my cart. She did get up pretty fast when she saw me hobbling around with my stick, but… the nerve…

    • That is terrible! I can’t believe, or maybe yes I can, that someone would steal a cart! I do believe though it is worse during the holidays. The aisles are very crowded with boxes and junk we don’t need! I am sorry and hope you feel better next year! 🙂

      • Yeah, this was not too long before Christmas, actually.

        The aisles are very crowded with boxes and junk we don’t need!

        That’s true… but some of my difficulties came mostly when I was shopping at late hours, and I had to maneuver around pallets and such with the employees restocking the shelves. Usually this was at my local Supercenter of the Mart you and I are well-familiar with.

  • Anonymous

    #4 is an ALL THE TIME PROBLEM and especially worse during this time of year. I can recall my Father (who was paralyzed on his right side and walked with a cane) couldn’t even go to a store without the fear of being run over in the aisle. I used to do his Christmas shopping for him a present for my Mom. Can you imagine not even being able to buy a gift for your wife of almost 50 years, because of the rudeness of most crowds?

    • Yes, people are incredibly rude. I could not imagine not being able to buy a gift for a loved one simply because I couldn’t navigate the aisles. I am sure your father and mother appreciated your efforts. I took my daughter shopping this past weekend, I was knocking things over with only my pocketbook. The store had so many displays and promotional items, we had to leave. I couldn’t even find what I was looking for. As we were leaving there was a woman wanting to enter for the promotion. I heard her tell her own daughter, “never mind.” There was no entering the store for her. She had a motorized wheelchair. I felt bad for them. But most stores are not cognizant of these needs and quite honestly, I don’t think they care. Even the big box retailer that I love to hate, (who preaches “non-discrimination), has far too many boxes and crates taking up much need aisle space. This might become a new mission for me…I don’t know. So much to do, so little time. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it.

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