Property editor of the NZ Herald

Ageing population big retail challenge

An aging population presents a big challenge to retailers, says the head of the NZ Retail Association. Photo / NZ Herald
An aging population presents a big challenge to retailers, says the head of the NZ Retail Association. Photo / NZ Herald

The rapidly aging population poses challenges to retailers, with 1.1 million New Zealanders estimated to be aged over 65 by 2031, an industry chief says.

John Albertson, NZ Retail Association chief executive, warned those at today's Retail Australasia Summit & Expo at Auckland's Viaduct Events Centre to ignore this massive change at their peril.

Now, only 600,000 New Zealanders are aged 65-plus, he said.

But by 2031, 28 per cent of Northland's population will be 65-plus and nearly 30 per cent of Nelson's population will be in that demographic.

"It has big implications as the population ages and changes and it will be just a gradual change but in 20 year's time we don't want to be sitting there saying 'where the hell did the customers go?' because that's what we face happening," Albertson said, warning retailers not to view their business as being able to pick between a physical presence and selling online.

"They're simply two different channels of retail and you have to work out how to make both work for you," he said.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown, told of his longer-term plans to improve public transport connections to large retail centres.

Referring to expansion of rail, buses, ferries and road, Brown said Auckland's roads were often as congested on weekends as they were on weekdays, partly as people shopped.

He cited Hong Kong where 5 million people take public transport Mondays to Fridays but 4.5 million on each weekend day, "shopping up large and spending the money they earn on the other five days."

In the next 18 months to two years, Brown vowed to "seriously lift the public transport options so we don't go clogging our roads during the weekends".

He also told of his desire for a dedicated stand-alone Apple computer store in the CBD, praising "great big glass boxes which becomes a real attraction for young people and a hub of energy."

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