Supermarkets should introduce slow lanes for older people, finds report
Supermarkets have been urged to introduce dedicated slow lanes for the elderly who value the chance to talk when they are out shopping.
Researchers also suggested stores introduce special offers specifically targeted at the elderly, consider shopping buddy schemes and incentivise them to visit at quieter times of the week.
The University of Hertfordshire report comes amid growing pressure for stores to adapt to the needs of older customers.
A recent report by the charity Anchor and the think-tank ILC-UK said the UK could be in danger of sluggish economic growth if under-spending by older people continued, and called for shopping centres and high streets to provide more seating and toilets to help older customers shop in comfort.
The latest report said: "Slower checkout lanes for older people would improve the shopping experience for those who enjoy the social aspect of shopping.
"Shopping online could contribute to a greater feeling of isolation and older people becoming less involved in food provisioning."
Older people "stressed how much they valued the opportunity for social interaction that comes with a trip to the supermarket or local shops", the authors added.
The study also found that some elderly shoppers felt "disenfranchised" by special offers that only applied to higher spenders, and buy-one-get-one-free deals aimed at families buying in bulk.
Professor Wendy Wills, Professor of Food and Public Health and one of the report's authors, said: "Older people are more likely to have a wide range of factors working against them when it comes to sourcing, buying and preparing food.
"Industry and policymakers have a real opportunity to introduce practical and cost-effective measures that support older people to enjoy a healthy, affordable and safe diet, and to develop, or continue with, a positive relationship with food.
"Failure to act could result in older people's food security, and therefore their health and wellbeing, declining at a faster rate, placing greater pressure on the NHS and care providers."
The researchers, who were funded by the Food Standards Agency and the Economic and Social Research Council, spent nine months studying the food habits of men and women aged between 60 and 93 from 25 households in Hertfordshire.
They studied what the participants bought and ate and ac
companied them on trips to the supermarket, lunch clubs and allotments.