Friday, September 12, 2008


THE future’s bright, the future’s grey? Sounds like an uninspiring cliché. But it’s probably spooking Britain just the same.

Recent reports of pensioners outnumbering under-16s for the first time in history have fuelled concern over how society can provide better health and social care for them. As the country grapples with the dramatic demographic change, many are bracing for the day when the elderly will hold sway.

There is little doubt that the growing grey army would have far-reaching implications for everyone. Indeed, elderly care is being regarded as the new child care.

Society must thus be a little more imaginative and proactive in ensuring older people continue to stay well, be independent and productive. In fact, many senior citizens, including those in their 90s, are still living an active and independent lifestyle – shopping, travelling in buses or eating out – all on their own.

You can see them almost everywhere; pushing their trolleys laden with groceries at the neighbourhood supermarket or sitting in one corner of a crowded double-decker bus.
Smartly dressed in colourful hats, coats or jackets, these elderly people – including those in wheelchairs or walking with crutches – go about their daily business just like everybody else.

The government must wake up to the fact that they are dealing with an ageing but highly independent population whose zest for life seems inexhaustible. The fact that elderly shoppers fork out an average of £4,400 (RM28,600) last year – much of it on fashion, beauty and electrical products – has got High Street shops targeting the grey pound.

With the increasing shift towards older customers, Tesco’s plans to open Britain’s first pensioner-friendly supermarket in Newcastle did not come as a surprise. Based on Berlin’s Kaiser store concept, the supermarket would have anti-slip floor, wider aisles, magnifying glasses and seats on trolleys to ease the shopping woes of elderly customers.

Mundane tasks like slipping a pound into a trolley’s coin slot or reaching out for your favourite bottle of jam or peanuts on a shelf might be a breeze. But if you’ve got arthritis or other physical ailments, these tasks could prove challenging.

Anti-slip floors, however, should not just be for the elderly; they are a necessity for all shoppers, especially women with children and the disabled.

Having said that, it’s definitely a great idea to tap into the huge customer base of pensioners.
Oh boy, it would certainly be food for thought for the other major retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Morrison and Asda in the wake of Tesco’s initiative in pandering to the needs of their elderly customers.

After all, the scheme would go down well with the supermarket giant’s shopping tagline “Every Little Helps.”

Hopefully, the prices would be just as pensioner-friendly too.

(To read the full text, or email the article to a friend, click on the link below.)

No comments: