Older people’s charity, Anchor, is highlighting the “dire” need for the high street to reinvent itself as a new report predicts up to £4.5bn annual losses by 2030 as retailers fail to attract the grey pound.
The report entitled ‘Older generations to rescue the high street’ by the Centre for Future Studies, commissioned by Anchor, comes as new polling reveals 1.7 million older people (23% of those aged 70+) say they feel “shut out” from the high street. Some 60% say they are concerned by the lack of seating in shopping areas that would allow them to rest.
We must value older people – everyone should have the chance to live life to the fullest, regardless of age.
Anchor’s Standing Up 4 Sitting Down (SU4SD) campaign is now calling for more to be done to tackle inaccessible high streets, help reduce older people’s loneliness, and improve their health and wellbeing.
Chief executive of Anchor, Jane Ashcroft CBE, says: “Going shopping is something most of us take for granted and yet many thousands of older people feel excluded from our high streets. This is an issue not to be overlooked, as it increases older people’s isolation and loneliness, in turn affecting health and wellbeing.
“It’s also important for retailers who are missing out on huge amounts of revenue. We must value older people – everyone should have the chance to live life to the fullest, regardless of age.”
The report warns that, as baby boomers reach older age and the strength of the grey pound rockets, high streets must dramatically overhaul themselves into age-friendly integrated community environments. The alternative, by 2030, is the demise of the high street with the disappearance of banks, estate agents, and many well-known brands – leaving just 120,000 shops remaining nationwide, according to the report. The effects of this stretch beyond the economy, contributing to the prospect of 8.7million lonely older people in the UK by 2030, it added.
Dr Frank Shaw, Foresight Director at the Centre for Future Studies, says: “Baby boomers are an economic force to be reckoned with. As they enter older age, their refusal to retire quietly is an opportunity to reinvigorate the high street, transforming it into a diverse, prosperous, and age-friendly environment. The alternative, £4.5bn annual losses and the death of the high street, will be devastating not just for older people but for everyone.”
Since the launch of SU4SD in 2016, Anchor says there has been some progress to get more seating on high streets. The campaign has welcomed commitment from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, and more than 200 independent stores to increase or maintain the number of seats in their stores. But much more needs to be done.