Picture this. After a long day of holiday shopping, you still have a couple more people to cross off your list. Unfortunately, your bags are getting heavier and the street is looking busier and busier. You walk past a few more store windows, looking inside to see if there’s somewhere to rest your feet for a few minutes. Nope, not a chair in sight. Frustrated, you decide to call it a day.
Lack of store seating is not only annoying, but it’s an especially legitimate shopping concern for older customers…and it’s costing retailers a lot of money too. Senior citizens are even refusing to shop because of it.
A study conducted by the International Longevity Centre calculates that the lack of basic measures to better accessibility for older people could be costing British retailers £3.8 billion a year. That’s $6.3 billion CAD–all because stores have no chairs to sit in.
The study concludes that the “retirement consumption puzzle,” a dilemma where economists try to explain why spending declines with age even though people tend to have more money at retirement age than they did when they were younger, can simply be explained by this absence of seats.
“The study links lower spending in old age with accessibility,” states the Telegraph. “Older people with mobility problems spend 16 per cent less on clothing and 11.5 per cent less on leisure than those of the same age with no difficulty getting around but, crucially, no less than on essentials such as groceries.”
Nona Hall, a 93-year-old Anchor resident from Attleborough, Norfolk says, “Being independent is so important to me. Even with my walker, it would be very difficult for me to make it to the shops without stopping for a rest part way. More seating would allow me to be more active and venture a bit further into town on my own. It would make it more enjoyable and stop me from missing out.” And the statistics prove other seniors agree.
The Standing Up 4 Sitting Down campaign (#su4sd) is a UK initiative that aims to improve people’s access to their local stores by increasing the amount of seating available to those who need it. They conducted their own poll and concluded that 78 per cent of over-70s (and a whopping 88 per cent of over-70s women) believe their local retail shopping areas are not suited to their needs.
We definitely support more seats in stores, and hope Canada will take notice too, especially if that means older customers feel more comfortable shopping. Everyone, regardless of mobility, deserves to enjoy the thrill of an end-of-season sale. Besides, “shop ’til you drop” was never meant to be taken literally, right?