High street at risk of losing £4.5bn as retailers neglect older shoppers

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With so much focus on the customer experience, and using technology to attract millennials, lingerie retailers must not neglect older shoppers.

A recent report commissioned by charity organisation, Anchor, has revealed that many shoppers aged 70-plus find high street shops unwelcoming to them, with confusing automated technology and limited seating areas available for them to rest.

The charity warns that if things don’t improve than high street shops are at risk of losing up to £4.5 billion in lost trade each year by 2030.

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Some key findings from the report include:

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

Jane Ashcroft CBE, the chief executive of Anchor, commented: “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.”

The new report warns that as baby boomers reach older age, they represent a significant part of retailers’ target audience, and one they often ignore. Unless high streets reinvent themselves as having an age-friendly environment, they are going to be missing out on billions of pounds of revenue each year and could seal their own demise. As 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 of Future studies, Dr Frank, who compiled the new report on behalf of Anchor, explained: “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.”

He recommended simple measures such as making shops more comfortable and enjoyable for older people and giving a competitive edge to those retailers which provide them.

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