Imagine this: American cities are learning they need to rethink how they do stuff because of the aging of the population.
If they want people to use their facilities, shop in their stores, spend money in them, then America’s cities need to rethink how they do stuff.
That is what is being learned by those who would like to keep from going out of business as the demographics move upwards.
But isn’t it a lesson that should have been learned all along?
Isn’t the option of being more customer friendly a good thing, one that we have seen missed for some time now?
We certainly hear enough complaints when it’s missing.
As a recent Associated Press article noted, communities are beginning to see that there is a real need to cater to the physical needs of the aging shoppers.
“Last year, East Harlem became the city’s first ‘aging improvement district.’ Sixty stores, identified with window signs, agreed to put out folding chairs to let older customers rest as they do their errands. The stores also try to keep aisles free of tripping hazards and use larger type so signs are easier to read. A community pool set aside senior-only hours so older swimmers could get in their laps without faster kids and teens in the way.
“On one long block, accountant Henry Calderon welcomes older passers-by to rest in his air-conditioned lobby even if they’re not customers. They might be, one day.
“‘It’s good for business but it’s good for society,’ too, he said.”
We have all faced the alternative, the mall with few places to sit or the downtown with virtually no amenities.
What successful communities are seeing, and frankly have seen all along, is that if you want people to spend money in a shopping district, it needs to be a place in which they are comfortable, that is friendly, that meets their perceived needs.
And those amenities will need to be more encouraging to older shoppers, as the years pass by.
“The size of the aging boom is staggering. Every day for the next few decades, thousands of baby boomers will turn 65. That’s in addition to the oldest-old, the 85- to 90-somethings whose numbers have grown by nearly one-third in the past decade, with no signs of slowing.
“By 2050, 1 in 5 Americans will be seniors. Worldwide, almost 2 billion people will be 60 or older, 400 million of them over 80.”
So, now would be a good time for communities to plan to cater to this population and a good place to start would be to encourage courtesy and customer service that has been missing from business in too many instances in the past.
— Chuck Smith