Supermarkets: It is in their interest to help older shoppers shop!

03 September 2018

The spend on shopping from older households runs into billions of pounds annually but millions of older people simply cannot shop themselves. Financial barriers, such as paying for a taxi fare when you can no longer drive. Public transport may not be accessible, especially in rural areas and if it is, carrying a weeks shopping for an older person from shop to bus stop and home may not be possible.

Family, friends and voluntary agencies who offer help to collect shopping for an older person ensures that they do not go without, but giving a list is not the same as going around a supermarket yourself and for the supermarket, the end bill is likely to be smaller than if a person shopped for themselves.

Having someone else shop for you means that you do not try new products, new brands, pick your own fresh food and you just ends up being grateful that someone brought a bag of groceries round to their home for them.

The internet has older users, but millions do not use it and so a possible choice to pick their food, state their preferences is not there. Community Transport helps in many parts of the country but due to budget cuts is reducing in the services it supplies. Mobile grocers’ vans which were common decades back are in decline.

Present buying, purchasing a newspaper or magazine, buying a lottery or scratch card, all these simple activities are pleasures which are lost to the customer who cannot access them.

Millions of older people are lonely. Shopping means social interactions with other people, the chance to chat, to have lunch, a cup of tea and to enjoy just looking round. A social event. 

The large supermarkets sell everything from carrots to clothing, peas to plants and jugs to jewellery. Customers in the store look round these differing products and buy items they did not come in for. 

Some supermarkets have a small bus which picks up older customers on a regular basis but there needs to be many more on the road. Vehicles with adapted interiors, ones that can either take a wheelchair or have a driver who can help a person into a store wheelchair and then have store employee to push the chair up and down the aisles. 

Not being able to personally shop as you get older is flagging up personal decline, a frightening realisation and supermarkets could do much more so that an older person could experience the feeling that they still enjoy some independence, have left their home if only for a short while and have ‘enjoyed their look round’. 

Many other opportunities should be available in supermarkets to encourage and facilitate older people into their store and whilst local initiatives are of benefit, it will be the supermarket that publicizes nationally, new, practical ideas to facilitate older people shopping, that will enjoy the huge, potential, financial benefits of this growing market.