Silver Shoppers to Remake Retail Formats, Says New Fung Global Retail & Technology Report

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Opportunity exists in the convenience and e-commerce sectors and in reformatting stores and malls for aging consumers, writes Managing Director Deborah Weinswig

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The era of the silver generation has arrived.

Look for more, but smaller, neighborhood stores, an increase in local delivery trucks and changing store layouts as retailers accommodate aging populations, says “The Silver Series IV: Retail Reconfiguration for Seniors.” The report is the latest in a series of analyses from Fung Global Retail & Technology on the impact of the growing 65-and-over population on global economies, industries and retail.

With smaller households and appetites, seniors shop more frequently, but make smaller purchases, favoring the convenience store sector, the report says. The trend is already being seen in Europe, where large-format retailers such as Tesco, Carrefour and REWE are opening smaller stores. While this has yet to take place in the U.S., ignoring this population segment is unwise, as silvers are growing in number and driving a disproportionate amount of consumer spending.

“The era of the silver generation has arrived,” writes Deborah Weinswig, Managing Director of Fung Global Retail & Technology.

The global population of those aged 65 and older will account for over one-third of population growth through 2035, according to the United Nations, and will comprise more than 20 percent of the population overall in Japan, South Korea, Western Europe, North America and China. These households tend to be wealthier, and in the U.S., senior households spend well above the national average on household supplies and books, though less on apparel and footwear, which could be due to limited choice.

Long thought to be the province of the young and tech savvy, e-commerce also is a growth market for seniors, who will enjoy or require the convenience of home delivery.

Not all stores and product manufacturers are accommodating silvers’ changing needs. Seniors can find large-format stores and regional malls overwhelming, and product packaging may need to be redesigned in order to make it easier for seniors to read and open, Weinswig notes.

But some retailers around the globe are adapting. Japan’s Lawson convenience store chain has renovated units in areas with a high concentration of silvers, widening aisles, lowering shelves and stocking more products that appeal to older shoppers. The 7-Eleven chain in Japan offers a meal delivery service to seniors, while the Aeon Mall offers medical facilities, leisure activities, a concierge and other services for its senior shoppers. Supermarket chains in Germany and Austria have widened aisles, provided customized shopping carts and added nonskid flooring, while in the U.S., drugstores CVS and Walgreens are adapting store layouts to minimize high and low shelving, and have carpeted floors in some stores and even added magnifying lenses to shelves so shoppers can read labels with small print more easily.

“It is no coincidence that Japan, which is well ahead of most countries in terms of the aging of its population, has a major convenience store sector,” Weinswig writes. “We are now seeing other markets follow Japan in a convenience boom: in France and the UK, for instance, major retailers are pushing into the format as the segment outpaces the wider grocery market.”

The full report can be found here. This is the fourth report in Fung Global Retail & Technology’s “Silvers Series.” The first report focused on healthcare technology, and was followed by discussions of homecare and assisted living, and technologies for the mobility constrained. Other reports published by Fung Global Retail & Technology include: "The State of Consumers in the US and China," and The Silver Wave: Understanding the Aging Consumer.” Fung Global Retail & Technology’s reports and analyses can be found at http://www.fbicgroup.com and http://www.deborahweinswig.com.

About Fung Global Retail & Technology
Fung Global Retail & Technology is a think tank whose research team, based in New York, London and Hong Kong, follows emerging retail and tech trends, specializing in the ways retail and technology intersect, and building collaborative communities.

The team, led by Deborah Weinswig, former top Wall Street and retail tech analyst and startup advisor, publishes ongoing thematic and global market research on topics such as the Internet of Things, digital payments, omnichannel retail, luxury and fashion trends, and disruptive technologies. More information can be found at http://www.fbicgroup.com.

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Debra Hazel
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