Millennials are a fascinating tribe for retailers and retail landlords. Born at the beginning of the tech revolution and now young adults at a time of great political and societal change, they are reshaping retail.

Mia Hunt

But are retailers forgetting about those at the other end of the age spectrum in their clamour to appeal to digital natives?

The short answer is ‘yes’. Inexplicably, the retail sector seems to be assiduously ignoring those who have reached or are approaching old age.

It is missing a huge opportunity. Over-50s control 80% of the UK’s wealth and as well as huge spending power have little debt - unlike millennials.

The extent of their superior spending power is revealed by research compiled exclusively for Property Week, which shows that the over-50s spend 42% more on retail goods than other age groups and 66% more than millennials. Yet the shopping experience and products on offer are not geared towards them. Indeed, you would be forgiven for thinking they are geared towards everyone but them.

Grey pound illustration

The property and retail worlds are waking up to the purchasing power of the older customer - Source: Marco Bevilacqua/Want Some Studio

The good news is that some shopping centre landlords, such as Hammerson, are starting to actively curate spaces to better cater for older consumers. Moreover, the likes of British Land are investing heavily in capturing data and hiring specialists to derive actionable insights from it, putting them in a far better position to tailor their centres to consumers - whatever the age or demographic. And tailor it they should.

The grey pound is there and ready for the taking. It is time the property industry stopped fixating on millennials and started targeting the people with the real spending power - and focusing on today’s shoppers as well as tomorrow’s.

Mia Hunt is Property Week’s market reports editor