Older consumers key to unlocking spending as lockdown relaxes

  • Think tank calls on Government to deliver an “Ageing Society New Deal” to maximise the economic benefit of an ageing society.
  • Older consumers are key to the future success of the hospitality and leisure sector, yet the opportunity of ageing is being missed.

A new report by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) highlights that older consumers could drive economic growth in the post-pandemic recovery but business is failing to meet their needs.

“Lockdown not shutdown: How can we unlock the longevity dividend post-pandemic?” argues that older people on a fixed income may have not faced as significant a financial shock as younger people yet lockdown has made it difficult for this group, particularly those shielding, to actually spend their money.

Older consumers spent £319 billion (54% of all UK consumer spending) in 2018, a figure set to increase as the population ages and this group spends more money.  But older people are underspending their wealth.

As lockdown is relaxed for the hospitality sector, ILC project that while older people have historically spent a high proportion of their income on “essentials”, they are increasingly spending more on non-essentials like leisure.

Yet the ILC report highlights that industry and government haven’t addressed the barriers to spending by older consumers. It sets out ten reasons why spending falls with age:

  1. Our health gets worse
  2. We don’t know how long we’ll live
  3. We want to leave money to others
  4. We don’t need or want as much
  5. We can’t get to – or around – the shops
  6. We can’t find suitable products or services
  7. PR, advertising and marketing agencies don’t remember or understand us
  8. Age discrimination
  9. We don’t have enough money
  10. The digital divide

ILC argue that in order to maximise the longevity dividend, Government and industry should:

  • Invest in preventative health;
  • Inclusively design products and places;
  • Help people to get a better understanding of how long they’re likely to live, and create financial products that offer financial security for their whole life.

Launching the report, ILC Director, David Sinclair said:

“As lockdown relaxes, the hospitality industry must better recognise that it is increasingly reliant on older consumers. The night-time economy needs older consumers as do museums and other leisure attractions. Even theme parks need to engage better with older consumers to get them and their families through their doors. Yet these sectors too often ignore the needs of older people.

Industry must wake up to the opportunity of older consumers. Government should deliver a mix of regulatory, legislative and fiscal incentives to support spending and work by older people. It’s time for an Ageing Society New Deal.”




Lily Parsey LilyParsey@ilcuk.org.uk 07400294694

David Sinclair DavidSinclair@ilcuk.org.uk 07543646992


Launch event

Register at: https://ilcuk.org.uk/lockdown-not-shutdown/

Date: Thursday 2 July 2020
Time: 1.00pm – 3.00pm BST (8.00am – 10.00am EDT)


  • Lord Willetts, Resolution Foundation
  • Jenny Holt, Phoenix Group
  • Professor Isabelle Szmigin, University of Birmingham
  • David Sinclair, ILC-UK

What happens next

In 2020 ILC published Maximising the Longevity Dividend, building on our work studying older consumers over the past decade. This year we plan to produce a report on the Global Longevity Dividend, and to take the messages directly to G20 finance ministers.

Over the last year we’ve been running a programme of work focussing on understanding how we can best prevent ill health in old age, Prevention in an Ageing World. We will continue this work over the next 12 to 18 months.

We intend to continue our work on the future of the high street.

About ILC

The ILC is the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society, and what happens next.

We believe society has to adapt now so we can all enjoy the benefits of longevity.

We want a society that works for everyone, regardless of their age.

We know the numbers. We know the challenges. What happens next will define us for generations.


Thanks to members of the ILC Partners Programme for their support. This publication has only been possible due to their ongoing support.

Our Partners have been given advance copies of this report. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of our Partners.

Visit our website (https://ilcuk.org.uk/work-with-us/partners/) for information on how to join our Partners Programme.