As of 2019, the fastest-growing population demographic is actually the over-65s. Moreover, by the middle of the century, the number of those aged 80 years or older is predicted to treble from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050. Add to that fewer couples deciding to have children, this in turn results in a significant population shift — and therefore considerable changes in shopping trends consequently.
Such a global aging population indicates that businesses need to adapt in order to keep up with the inevitable increasing demand for goods and services. Not only is this demographic increasing, those over 60 are now becoming a lot more active. Furthermore, thanks to improvements in care and medical assistance, people are not only having a longer lives, they are happier too! People aged over 60 are also forecasted to have a global spending power of $15 trillion by 2020, and lots of them seeing shopping as their social activity of choice, they are a market we need to cater for and should by no means be overlooked. The question is though, how can this market be tapped into? And once we’ve got the over 60s’ attention, how can we ensure that their shopping experience as enjoyable and accessible as it can possibly be? In this article, Stairlifts Akron explore how the retail sector can better cater for the elderly…the ways that businesses are becoming more elderly-friendly…
How businesses can become more accessible
Businesses can be adapted in several ways to cater for an older customer base. From product design, to shop lighting, there are multiple adjustments that will make a world of difference for thes shoppers’ experience. Here are some areas to focus on.
Packaging and sign design
In a 2013 survey, 52% of 60-70-year-olds admitted difficulty in reading product labels and packaging — it is clear that most designs haven’t kept up with an aging audience. In order to encourage elderly shoppers, make sure your labels, shop signs, advertisements and packing are all clear and easy to read. If you have any doubts about their readability, make sure there are always plenty of shop assistants on-hand to assist older customers.
Store layout and location
Lots of senior citizens prefer to take their custom to locally owned shops, closer to home, as opposed to travelling further away. As shopping is a leisure activity for this group as well as a necessity, the social aspect should be a big focus. Local shops closer to residential areas are likely to have a high success rate with this demographic, as they will create a stronger sense of community between shoppers.
Retail stores in close proximity to residential areas will also be a lot more convenient for an age group that many have a higher number of non-drivers among them.
Shop floor layouts is something else to be seriously considered. To cater to these customers, accessibly is of great importance. If your shop has multiple floors for example, consider installing a curved or straight stairlift as well as plenty of seating areas for those customers who will need a breather. Accessible bathrooms are also of utmost importance.
Non-slip floors and matte surfaces have also been installed by many accessible shops. It is best to take any opportunity to make your customers feel safer and more at ease! Lighting is another consideration; senior shoppers can require light up to five times brighter than younger people in order to comfortably read labels and packaging. An example of a shop that has carefully considered this is Seniority, an elderly wellness retailer in Pune, India. This shop features lighting that gradually transitions between the exterior and interior of the shop, giving customers’ eyes more time to comfortably adjust.
The Japanese department store Keio is another business that has responded well to its aging customer base and adjusted its layout accordingly. After discovering that 70% of its customers were over 50, the design of the shop floor was organized by colour, price and size, rather than brand. Making the shopping experience easier to understand and enjoy for older people.
Many retailers such as Sainsbury’s have recently undertaken slow shopping initiatives. First trialed in Gosforth, Newcastle, slow shopping took place every Tuesday afternoon for two hours. The scheme discourages rushing around the shops, and instead, creates a calming environment in which older customers can take their time and shop at their own pace.
Shoppers who attend this slow shopping window are greeted by employees at the shop’s entrance, and are offered assistance as they shop. In addition, chairs are put in place at the end of aisles so that customers can have regular breaks and aren’t kept on their feet for too long.
‘Relaxed lanes’ are also being trialed in Sainsbury’s around Scotland, encouraging shoppers to go at their own pace and be respectful to one another.
This is crucial for making a good impression to elderly shoppers. In contrast to the younger demographic who statistically prefer online shopping and less face-to-face interaction, older customers seek help and social interaction while shopping. As many elderly people will see shopping as a social opportunity, make sure your shop assistants are always ready to help and offer advice to these customers.
Shopping is one of the favourite activities of the older demographic, and our stores need to start reflecting this. A recent study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society uncovered that, of the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, eight out of ten named shopping as their most enjoyed activity. Sadly however, one in four have given up shopping completely in their old age. If you focus on creating a more accessible and less overwhelming retail business, this group of people will be back doing what they love, and your aging customer base will grow and grow.