Why the high street needs to stop ignoring over-65s

The recently published results from a think tank hosted by International Longevity Centre (ILC) have revealed that the spending and working potential of people aged 65+ is being ignored. 

Shops missing out on biggest spenders

Despite what many may think, the growth in spending is actually being fuelled by those aged 65+, a valuable resource currently being ignored by our high street retailers. Figures show that households of older people increased their spending by 75% between 2001 and 2018. Indeed, it’s predicted that by 2040, consumers aged 50+ could be spending more than the younger generation across all sectors. The ILC's report stated: ‘The ageing of our society is often portrayed as a disaster for our economy. But this narrative neglects the potential benefits.’ 

The ILC report also found that by 2028, more people aged 60+ will be working in part time jobs than any other age group except the under 30’s. It also suggested that the high number of self-employed older people is a result of a lack of appropriate opportunity, blaming ageism and inflexible working hours, among other things. David Bloom, professor of Economics and Demography in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: ‘raising the retirement age does nothing for the economy if people aren't healthy enough and governments don't invest in health.’

Is the high-street to blame?

The report also highlights that spending for those aged 75 and over ‘substantially drops’, regardless of income, because of poor health and ‘non inclusive’ services in our retail areas. One of the main factors that stop the older generation venturing out to the high street is a lack of public toilets. It was suggested that more inclusive measures need to be adopted by the shops themselves to help older people pursue their shopping habits in comfort and safety, including having appropriate seating on the shop floor. 

A representative at the International Federation on Ageing, Dr Jane Barratt, encourages society to change the way we view and act towards older people to eliminate ‘prejudice and discrimination.’ Some retailers have already taken steps to make the shopping experience better for older people, including Sainsbury’s who are currently trialling ‘slow-lane’ checkouts. 

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