High-street retail considerations for older generation

Amongst the high street, technology is rapidly advancing, as we have been introduced self-service checkouts and scan-on-the-go. Because of this, elderly shoppers are starting to find it difficult to keep up with these technical trends that are constantly changing the shopping experience.

A charity for older people, Anchor, have released a report that found that older people are feeling they aren’t getting catered in retail shops. With this comes a warning that if things don’t improve, high street shops are at risk of losing up to £4.5 billion in lost trade each year by 2030.

The report, entitled ‘Older generations to rescue the high street’, reveals that:

  • 23% of older people aged 70+ say they feel ‘shut out’ from the high street.
  • 60% of older people are concerned about the limited seating that is provided in shopping areas, including inside shops.
  • 33% of older people would feel embarrassed to ask for a seat in a public place.
  • 24% of older people are put off by self-checkout machines.

“Going shopping is something most of us take for granted and yet many thousands of older people feel excluded from our high streets. This is an issue not to be overlooked, as it increases older people’s isolation and loneliness, in turn affecting health and wellbeing. It’s also important for retailers who are missing out on huge amounts of revenue. We must value older people – everyone should have the chance to live life to the fullest, regardless of age,” was expressed by Jane Ashcroft CBE, the Chief Executive of Anchor.

To tackle loneliness among the older generation, and improve their overall heath, Anchor are calling on more retailers to get behind it’s “Standing Up 4 Sitting Down” campaign. This is a national initiative encouraging retailers to provide seating for its older customers in shops. Now, there are more than 1,500 across the country which have signed up to the scheme, including Sainsburys and Morrisons. But more are needed.

If high-street don’t act on this, then they are going to be missing out on billions of pounds of revenue each year which can further threaten them. As a greater number of younger people turn to shopping online, high-street retailers will increasingly rely on in-store trade from older people who are likely to go out shopping.

The report was created for Anchor by Dr Frank, who is a Foresight Director at the Centre for Future Studies. He said: “Baby boomers are an economic force to be reckoned with. As they enter older age, their refusal to retire quietly is an opportunity to reinvigorate the high street, transforming it into a diverse, prosperous, and age-friendly environment. The alternative, £4.5bn annual losses and the death of the high street, will be devastating not just for older people but for everyone.”

It’s important for shops to make their spaces more accessible for this audience. These include placing in-store seating areas where people can take a rest if they need to, and a return to a good old-fashioned service by real human beings, rather than impersonal and sometimes confusing automated checkouts, and even stairlifts when elevators aren’t present. For some older people, especially those who live alone, the social interaction they get while out shopping is extremely important.

As the world turns more to online shopping then ever before, investing in these technologies to cater for that audience could be a bad move for the high-street. Don’t alienate your older customers, as providing a mix of checkout options to suit the differing needs to shopping would be a more sensible route.

Download the report here.

Learn more about the “Stand Up 4 Sitting Down” campaign here.


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