Supermarkets looking to “pensioner-friendly” outlets

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 29th August 2008

A new kind of supermarket is gaining notoriety in Europe. The products remain the same, the staff are still there, but there are some clear distinguishing features.

The ‘pensioner-friendly’ supermarket, which directly targets senior citizens, will incorporate a host of changes to the average outlet – from wider aisles to brighter lighting, clearer signage and relaxation areas.

German supermarket chain Kaiser’s was one of the first to introduce such stores and their popularity has seen a gradual spread throughout Europe. Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, now appears set to follow the trend with the introduction of Britain’s first pensioner-friendly on the horizon.

The Daily Mail reports that, in order to test the potential of the stores and their appeal to UK consumers, Tesco recently sent a group of over 65’s to a Kaiser store in Germany and the feedback was positive.

Professor Jim Edwardson, founder of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, was among those who visited Germany and believes they would be embraced by senior citizens throughout the country. “Almost everything about supermarket shopping in the UK is wrong for elderly customers, from shelving that is too high to reach or too low to get to. The Kaiser store was the first of its kind in Germany and is so impressive,” he told the Daily Mail. “The trolleys on their own are lighter and easier to move. The signs are very clear, there are magnifying glasses on shelves and trolleys, the lighting is better and the staff friendlier. With a growing elderly population this has to be the future for supermarkets.”

The ageing population in Australia is, like the UK, becoming more noticeable. The proportion of Australians over 65 is set to increase from 14 per cent to 18 per cent in the next decade alone, and possibly to about 27 per cent by 2050 (according to ABS modelling).

Many have simply viewed the situation as a great opportunity for health and medical-related industries, with some of Australia’s highest performing stocks over recent years being in the health sector. The potential to cater for the ageing population goes far beyond health services, however, and understanding how to best cater toward an ageing population will become pivotal to a diverse range of sectors over coming years.

The ‘pensioner-friendly’ supermarket is just one of the areas where Australian companies could work toward finding a way to better target the increasingly lucrative senior citizen demographic and, if successful in the UK, it would appear only a matter of time before the introduction of similar outlets here in Australia.