By 2039 more than 1 in 12 people will be 80 or over. This is a considerable segment of the population - yet markets, high streets and commodities in the UK are all geared toward the young. Why are we forgetting about our older generation? Though some retail brands feature older models - how could we forget Vogue's 100 year old star? - it's not enough.
A recent poll has revealed that 78% of older people don't think that their town suits their needs, preventing them from leaving their homes and doing their shopping as often as they would like.
Shopping environments are not what they used to be and many are far from age friendly. Aisles are often long and slim, with nowhere to rest. Staff are often rushed off their feet and self-checkouts can infuriate even the most literate in technology. So what steps can we take to change this?
At Anchor, it's something we've heard a lot from people living in our retirement housing and care homes. So we've taken it back to basics and have launched 'Standing Up 4 Sitting Down', a new campaign calling for retailers to make seating available for all those who need it. Not only will this improve the shopping experience for all, extra seats mean that older people will be more inclined to get out - increasing their health and fitness as well as reducing social isolation and loneliness, which is tragically prevalent in the UK. Isolation and loneliness is such a big problem that ITV is commendably campaigning to tackle this issue over Christmas, asking their audience to pledge the equivalent of one million minutes to spending time with, or speaking with older people in their community.
An accessible high street also makes business sense. Retailers are being urged to attract the grey pound as there are more older people in the UK than ever before. Working with the independent think-tank ILC-UK, Anchor published a report which cautions that the UK could be in danger of sluggish economic growth if underspending by older people continues. This translates to an incredible loss of £3.8bn a year.
The report also finds that older people who have trouble walking and often need to pause for a rest, spend 14.5% less money than those that do not struggle with mobility. This finding is huge and, to me, it's an obvious win-win situation for businesses to include seating that will help unlock the grey pound and boost the economy.
We are overwhelmed with the level of support we have received. Local MPs such as George Osborne, Rosie Cooper and Tom Brake have shown their support, as well as dozens of charitable organisations including Care England, Friends of the Elderly and the Royal Air Forces Association.
It's encouraging to see that the public is responding to the vital need to improve health and social care for older people in the country; but how are retailers responding? We already have support from Debenhams, as well as smaller stores and we are reaching out to all major retailers in the UK, and urging them to back the campaign and lead the way in best practice.
The popularity of Standing Up 4 Sitting Down has proven that older people's needs are of public interest and that the nation is behind a campaign that improves our ageing population's lives. In the last year there has been an increasing instability in the care sector. Local Government bodies are urging the government to bring older people's needs to the forefront of their minds. Standing Up 4 Sitting Down is just one way that the public can pull together and help ease the pressure on older people.