247602 Ageism in the retail environment: Ignoring the gray elephant in the store

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 5:06 PM

Sheila Roher, MPH , Division of Health Policy, The New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Background: The development of ‘age-friendly' cities depends in part on age-friendly businesses. Suburban shopping malls have long been used by older adults as a means to alleviate loneliness or isolation. But there is little data regarding older adults' use and attitudes towards local urban stores or of urban retailers/marketers' attitudes towards older consumers.Methods: Formative research was conducted using mixed qualitative methods to explore the potential role of urban retail stores as sources of social contact, engagement, and support for older adults. Research methods included: two focus groups with older adults in a selected urban neighborhood (convenience sample, ages 65- 91); key informant interviews with business experts, marketers, and retailers; and observed interactions at coffee shops, computer stores, pet stores, shoe stores. Focus groups and interviews were coded, and findings were generated using grounded theory and triangulation. Findings: Most older adults perceive pervasive ageist attitudes and practices in local stores. Many marketers and retailers are misinformed and/or inattentive to older adults as customers, often due to ageist assumption. Findings are analyzed in terms of health implications for older people, and suggestions for further research and potential intervention strategies are considered as a means to transform urban retail venues into age-friendly sites for older adults.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe characteristics of ‘age-friendly’ neighborhood businesses and their potential health implications for older adults; 2. Identify specific business behaviors and practices that lead older adults to feel excluded or unwanted; 3. List common perceptions held by marketers and retailers that lead them to devalue older adults as customers.

Keywords: Aging, Community Assets

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am completing an MPH program focusing on Aging and Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.