St Johns Shopping Centre gave itself, its staff and even its Santa a purple makeover to mark Purple Tuesday.

The centre joined in the first national day dedicated to highlighting the issues faced by customers with disabilities and encouraging retailers to do more to improve their shopping experience.

It also took the opportunity to celebrate its own success in leading the way with disability awareness in Liverpool.

St Johns has become the only shopping centre in the UK to be recognised as a Level 3 Disability Confident Leader, meaning it’s ahead of the field when it comes to employing and developing the talents and careers of people with disabilities.

With more than 700 high street businesses across the country taking part in Purple Tuesday, St Johns flew the flag in the city by turning itself purple, with balloons and lighting, face painting and entertainment from a purple choir – The Luminelles from Birkenhead High School Academy.

Even Santa was transformed for the day, swapping his trademark red suit for a purple one to hand out purple treats to young shoppers ahead of the centre’s official Christmas lights switch-on.

Liverpool-born pro table tennis player, 10-times British champion and Rio Paralympian Jack Hunter-Spivey showed off his skills with a purple bat in St Johns’ Ping Pong Parlour on the upper level. And a team from Greenbank Sports Academy was there to showcase Polybat, an accessible version of table tennis, and promote its other inclusive sports.

St Johns general manager Neil Ashcroft said the centre was proud to be leading the way in championing equality for shoppers and workers with disabilities.

“Nearly one in five people in the UK has a disability and, although there is a greater awareness now, we know there can still be barriers and challenges that make it harder for disabled people to shop. As a centre, it’s important for us to recognise those and help retailers to become more accessible.

“We are also very pleased to have achieved the Level 3 Disability Confident Leader award because it shows our commitment to recruiting and supporting people with disabilities.

“Purple Tuesday is a great way to draw attention to the issues disabled people face, and it’s something we intend to keep focused on and do every day, not just this one.”

Purple Tuesday was founded by Mike Adams, the chief executive of Purple, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for businesses to be more inclusive and to do more to allow people to spend the ‘purple pound’.