Retailers are potentially losing money by failing to cater for older customers, according to Help the Aged. According to the charity, people over 50 currently spend £175 billion a year in the UK – which accounts for 45% of total consumer spending. But it said the industry was missing out on potential profits by often alienating or failing this age group.

In a survey commissioned by Help The Aged – which involved mystery shoppers being sent out to UK shops – it was found that many improvements needed to be made in the sector, including eliminating age discrimination and stopping older people being refused access to goods and services simply on the basis of age.

The research also highlighted the need for better customer services and easier to open packaging. In addition, the charity said the industry needed to advertise and market in a way that wasn’t patronising or stereotypical, while understanding the needs and diversity of the older population.

Help The Aged is calling on the Government to introduce Age Discrimination Legislation covering access to goods, services and facilities. David Sinclair, policy manager at Help the Aged, said: “Day after day we are seeing stories about how the high street is struggling. In light of this, it is astonishing that the market hasn’t yet woken up to or connected with the opportunity of an aging society.

“We have an ageing population which is increasingly diverse in its wants and needs. yet our research has revealed that half of the population think that business and retailers have little interest in older consumers.”

The survey was run by the Help the Aged engage programme, which is designed to enable companies to better adapt their businesses to meet the needs of an ageing society, and help attract the ‘silver pound’. Membership of the programme includes Microsoft, HSBC and Marks & Spencer.

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