Older consumers keep spending in Australia

15 March 2010

SYDNEY: Advertisers in Australia should ensure they are effectively communicating with older shoppers, who are likely to post the most substantial increase in their discretionary expenditure this year.

Figures from the Viewpoint report, produced by the Commonwealth Bank, have shown that the growth in spending among 25–34 year olds in the country was 2% below the rate of inflation in 2009.

This group also placed the highest emphasis on saving last year, with the economic downturn, and schemes like the government's First Home Owners Grant, both encouraging this activity.

Elsewhere, the 55–64 year old demographic enjoyed the biggest uptick in their monthly income over this period, at 6%.

More broadly, this figure stood at 3.7% for 45–54 year olds, and 2.8% for the 35–44 year old cohort.

Members of these two segments registered the highest monthly outlay in 2009, mostly because of the larger size of their households.

Overall, however, 75–80 year olds recorded the most sizeable expansion in their expenditure last year, on 46.8%, with 65–74 year olds boosting their outgoings by 28.2%.

Brian Walker, the chief executive of Retail Doctor, the consultancy, predicted these trends will continue to develop going forward.

"The Australian population is ageing, there is a lot of disposable income in that sector, and although older Australians have been hit by superannuation and so on, they still have a lot of money," he said.

"We're also living longer, and having more money. Older Australians are also more entrenched in conservative views and while it isn't sexy retailing, it's retailing nevertheless, and I think the demographic is … ready to be used."

According to Access Economics, retail sales in Australia are set to rise by 2.6% over the current fiscal year, and 2.7% over the next financial cycle.

"We do know that the older Australians hold the bulk of Australia's wealth, particularly in housing assets, and that will be good for businesses as the years go on," David Rumbens, director of the organisation, said.

"It doesn't surprise me that there was a short-term lift in spending rates, but the focus for retailers is not so much in that but in the fact this demographic will increase, and it will be important to focus on that group over time."

Data sourced from Smart Company; additional content by Warc staff