While many retailers invest in attracting hip and tech-savvy young adults through augmented reality or opening stores so dark you have to shop through touch, a growing sector of the population is often missed entirely – senior shoppers.

While many retailers invest in attracting hip and tech-savvy young adults through augmented reality or opening stores so dark you have to shop through touch, a growing sector of the population is often missed entirely – senior shoppers.

In most developed (and many developing) markets, the numbers of those aged 65 or over is in the ascendency.

Moreover, as well as being free of mountains of student debt and the need to save vast amounts to get a foot on the housing ladder, senior shoppers also have the time to shop.

Their approach is in contrast to that of young consumers, who are more likely to purchase online without seeing, touching or experiencing product in a store environment.

Most retailers though have only made cursory efforts to try to adapt stores and the merchandise they offer to this important group. Part of the problem is that there is a perception that stores focusing on senior shoppers are drab, uninspiring places –  this is often translated into run-down stores which suffer from underinvestment.

Not all retailers, however, take this view. A colleague recently visited the newly opened Aeon hypermarket in Funabashi, Tokyo, which has been designed for elderly shoppers.

Key features include larger in-store signage, rest zones, a health centre and an escalator which runs at a slower speed. Given that Japan’s population is now the fastest-ageing in the world, with around a third expected to be over 65 by 2050, it seems inevitable that other retailers will follow suit.

A similar trend can be seen in Germany. Retailers such as Kaiser and Edeka have been testing innovations for some years, including wider and lower aisles, brighter lighting, magnifying glasses on shopping trolleys and non-slip flooring.

So as the proportion of senior shoppers increases, what are the implications for retailers? They should be looking at their strategies and thinking how they fit into a future with more elderly shoppers.

For example, does the current roll-out of self-service checkouts being pursued by many make sense? Should smaller store formats in residential areas take priority over the building of large out-of-town stores?

As more of us live longer, retailers will need to think over such questions or risk going to an early grave themselves.