There are some shops I find it difficult to go into. Not least because the level of background music makes my ears rattle, nor because the staff are all young enough to be my child, no it’s the happy clappy, we love ‘yoof’ type marketing that puts me off.
|The Over 50’s Still Enjoy Shopping You Know!
You know the type of place – lurid pinks, greens and yellows, signage that looks like it’s written by my 5 year old and the inclusion of those teeny tiny packets of sweets, mints and bonbons. There are acres of things that dissolve in a bath plus enough lip balm to keep an Olympic bob-sledding team kissable. It seems to be the law that 80% of all merchandise for the under 12’s features a badly printed graphic of One Direction (with a big X through Zayn).
But when you stop and think about it, whose money are the kids spending? That’s right. Ours – unless the ‘Saturday job’ has returned (little chance of that thanks to zero hours contracts and ‘flexible working’) and the kids are spending their pocket money or birthday gift cards.
And, ask yourself this question – which age group of women have the highest levels of disposable income?
In a recent piece about the election, the Daily Mail identified “Boomer Woman”, that is women born between the years of 1945 to 1965 (I was born in 1964). Her profile makes interesting reading. For instance she has “high disposable income, little debt. She is likely to be mortgage-free or equity-rich, having bought property in the 1980s or before. She has the highest value of assets, disposable income and consumer expenditure of any age category.“
So, with a few notable exceptions of House of Fraser (and its champion, Mary Portas), Debenhams and John Lewis, I cannot for the life of me understand why the High Street does not better reflect the needs of shoppers like me.
Some of the retailers I grew up with seem simply not to know how to treat women my age, viewing us as happiest with tea, scones and a Lakeland catalogue. Now that is certainly one aspect (and yes I love a Lakeland catalogue), but it does not mean that I have left my love of clothes somewhere in the past with what’s left of my oestrogen and am ready for prints that would give Picasso a headache and enough elastic to launch a small missile into space.
There are signs, though, that the High Street is beginning to wake up. I am cheered by the appearance of plus size ranges in many stores. That is one market segment just crying out for love and the recognition that fabulous clothing is not the prerequisite of the skinny fashionista.
But it is time to recognise that ‘Boomer Woman” is heartily fed up of being ignored. Hey retailers – how about some fashion love for us? Let’s have some chic, understated stores, subtle lighting, gentle music and well trained staff. Let’s have a bit of research into how we live our lives and some ranges that don’t scream “over fifty” but rather, to adopt the French concept “woman of a certain age who is comfortable in her own skin”.
Get to know us. Heck, some of us have only recently had kids and are a long way off becoming grandparents. Many of us are fitter, sharper and savvier than our younger counterparts. We love a bargain. But most of all we love value.
And no, we don’t need any bloody lipbalm or baby tins of mints.