Older consumers key to unlocking spending as lockdown relaxes


A new report by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) highlights that older consumers could drive economic growth in the post-pandemic recovery but business is failing to meet their needs.

“Lockdown not shutdown: How can we unlock the longevity dividend post-pandemic?” argues that older people on a fixed income may have not faced as significant a financial shock as younger people yet lockdown has made it difficult for this group, particularly those shielding, to actually spend their money.

Older consumers spent £319 billion (54% of all UK consumer spending) in 2018, a figure set to increase as the population ages and this group spends more money.  But older people are under spending their wealth.

As lockdown is relaxed for the hospitality sector, ILC project that while older people have historically spent a high proportion of their income on “essentials”, they are increasingly spending more on non-essentials like leisure.

Yet the ILC report highlights that industry and government haven’t addressed the barriers to spending by older consumers. It sets out ten reasons why spending falls with age:

  1. Our health gets worse
  1. We don’t know how long we’ll live
  1. We want to leave money to others
  1. We don’t need or want as much
  1. We can’t get to – or around – the shops
  1. We can’t find suitable products or services
  1. PR, advertising and marketing agencies don’t remember or understand us
  1. Age discrimination
  1. We don’t have enough money
  1. The digital divide

ILC argue that in order to maximise the longevity dividend, Government and industry should:

  • Invest in preventative health;
  • Inclusively design products and places;
  • Help people to get a better understanding of how long they’re likely to live, and create financial products that offer financial security for their whole life.

Launching the report, ILC Director, David Sinclair said:

“As lockdown relaxes, the hospitality industry must better recognise that it is increasingly reliant on older consumers. The night-time economy needs older consumers as do museums and other leisure attractions. Even theme parks need to engage better with older consumers to get them and their families through their doors. Yet these sectors too often ignore the needs of older people.

Industry must wake up to the opportunity of older consumers. Government should deliver a mix of regulatory, legislative and fiscal incentives to support spending and work by older people. It’s time for a Grey New Deal.”