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Fung Global: Seniors a Potential Boon for Retailers

Silver shoppers, also known as senior citizens, are often overlooked by retailers, but this may soon be the contrary.

According to a recent Fung Global Retail & Technology Report, “The Silvers Series IV: Retail Reconfiguration for Seniors,” the 65-and-older demographic will influence the retail sector in future. But with silver shoppers spending only 62 percent of the average household total on apparel, retailers may have to accommodate aging consumers by changing a few things, such as building smaller neighborhood stores, increasing local delivery trucks and revamping store layouts.

Although people may argue that millennials will shape retail’s future, they are not considering other major groups, including senior citizens. United Nations said that by 2035, the 65-and-older demographic will be responsible for over one-third of world population growth. As silver shoppers increase over the next 19 years, they will also make up 20 percent of the overall populations in China, Japan, North America, South Korea and Western Europe.

Particularly in the U.S., seniors spend more than the average American household on books, but not as much on apparel and footwear. Perhaps silver shoppers don’t have great selection when it comes to their wardrobes, which could potentially explain this shift in spending behavior.

Seniors today want retailers to provide them with an easier shopping experience. Some store layouts aren’t catering to seniors’ needs, which include lower shelves and more customer service. Further, the report said seniors favor shops close to home and often find mall trips “overwhelming.”

Simple packaging and labels were also preferred by seniors, for better comprehension. Forty-three percent of seniors are brand loyal; they will buy products if they have the same high quality as their usual purchases. Seniors also desire more fashionable choices from retailers, which often have limited clothing selections that are frumpy or outdated. Lastly, seniors want more dining options when they shop, including food concession stands or cafes for meal breaks.

Recently, some retailers have altered their locations to be more silver shopper-friendly. U.K. grocery chain Asda hosts a quieter shopping experience for seniors at its Manchester location. On Saturdays, the store opens an hour earlier where there is no in-store music, no announcements on loudspeakers and the staff hands out picture-friendly store maps.

In Japan, the Aeon Mall offers drop-off bus service, medical facilities and 140 leisure activities for its “Grand Generation,” also known as senior citizens. And here in the U.S., apparel retailers like Eileen Fisher and Kohl’s have freed up floor space to provide a seamless shopping experience for older consumers.

As seniors increase their presence in stores, retailers will have to reconsider their branding and industrial design to satisfy this forgotten, but highly important consumer demographic.

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