High-Street Retailers should cater for the elderly

High-Street retailers are advancing rapidly, offering self-service checkouts and scan-to-go technology. However, the advance of technology has left older shoppers feeling put off shopping as they can’t keep up with these technical trends that are forever changing the shopping the shopping experience.

Anchor had produced a report the that older shoppers aren’t getting catered for in high street shops. With this comes a warning that if things aren’t improved, 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.

Chief Executive of Anchor, Jane Ashcroft had commented saying “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.”

Ask an objective to tackle loneliness and improve healthiness amongst the older generations, Anchor is calling on high-street 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-streets fail to cater for these shoppers, then they’re going to be at risk of losing out on billions of pounds of revenue each year and could seal their own demise. 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.

Foresight Director at the Centre for Future Studies had created a report for Anchor. 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.”

Making these places more accessible for this audience is important. 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.

With so many people shopping online, investing in technology that will please that audience could be a bad move 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.

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