High-street Considerations for Elderly Shoppers

The high-street is advancing quicker than ever before, with the likes of self-service checkouts and scan-on-the-go being introduced. As a result of this, older shoppers are finding it difficult to keep up with these technical trends that are forever changing the shopping experience.

A report released by Anchor has found that older people 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.

Elderly shoppers on high street shops

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 one comment from Jane Ashcroft CBE, the Chief Executive of Anchor.

In a bid to reduce loneliness among the older generation and improve their overall health, the charity is 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.

Unless high streets reinvent themselves as being age-friendly environments, they are going to be missing 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.

Happy older shoppers

Dr Frank, who is a Foresight Director at the Centre for Future Studies, created the 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.”

It’s important to make these 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.

With more people shopping online than ever before, 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.

Download the report here.

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