The English town of Christchurch is bustling with pensioners, with nearly 40 percent of its population over 60. Ciara Lee asks should more towns be harnessing the spending power of the ageing population?
Christchurch - a quintessentially English town on the south coast. It's got a high street that's bustling, and it's not hard to see who with... (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTCHURCH RESIDENT, SAYING: "There's nobody else but over 60s is there? You just look around... over there... over there...up here." The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2050 there will be more over 65s in the world than children under 5. As the average life expectancy rises, so too does the cost of looking after the elderly. But in the UK over 50s control 80 percent of the country's wealth. And the spending power of the baby boom generation is driving this town. Mickey Boland runs the local flower stall. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FLOWER STALL TRADER, MICKEY, SAYING: "They're kinder. Nicer. You can have more of a laugh with them. There's a tradition with elderly customers with buying locally.." (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, CIARA LEE, SAYING: "In some parts of the country, an ageing population can be seen as a negative thing. But not here in Christchurch. The cafes are buzzing, and the shops are full. Because these residents buy local." Nearly 40 percent of Christchurch's population is over 60. So should more towns and cities be encouraging an older demographic? Simon Derrick is from BNY Mellon. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BNY MELLON, SIMON DERRICK, SAYING: "Given the fact we've got increased longevity of age, then they're going to still be key spenders the UK and in the European economies. So from that perspective I do think we are going to see a shift in perspective where perhaps advertisers and companies that tended to target the 30 to 40 age bracket, I think perhaps over the course of the next 10 to 20 years, there will be in an increased focus on the 60-70 age bracket.." The government has been criticised for failing to cater for an older population Even eagerly awaited pensioner bonds, to be launched in January, may not live up to expectations. They're supposed to be a source of revenue but it's thought they could run out within weeks. Some businesses are waking up to the power of the grey pound. Housing developers are beginning to see the potential in a generation wanting to downsize or live in more accessible homes. Designs are beginning to change - marketing strategies must too.