Elderly shoppers breathe life into UK high streets

MARKET

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Britain’s growing army of elderly shoppers is helping to breathe fresh life into the country’s battered high streets, with rising demand for hearing aids, mobility scooters and elasticated trousers sending retailers scuttling to open new stores to cope with growing demand.

While many traditional shops are shutting their doors, the number of stores selling hearing aids and mobility scooters is rising – up 17 per cent and 2 per cent respectively, according to the Local Data Company. These outlets are now more numerous than those selling kitchenware, party goods and fishing tackle. The number is still slightly below that of picture framers, however.

“They [older consumers] definitely like to shop locally,” said Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company. “They want to pop out, do their stuff, pick up a prescription, have a cup of coffee or tea. That is why high streets are very key to communities.”

The increase in the number of shops catering for older customers underlines the rapid demographic changes under way in many developed economies. In the UK, those aged 50 to 64 account for a fifth of the population while the percentage aged 25 to 44 fell, as of the 2011 census.

The Financial Times reporting suggested, "The rapid rise in hearing aid shops has been driven primarily by Specsavers, the optician chain, adding hearing services to its offering. Boots, a staple on many high streets across the UK, is also adding more services for the hard of hearing to its chemists and opticians and has expanded its partnership with a hearing aid manufacturer."

Source: The Financial Times

Victoria Adshead, editor in chief of Audio infos UK