| Shop in peace: An elderly woman at a department store
London, April 25: In A flowery smock, brush and pan in one hand, a bottle of schnapps in the other, Renate Neumann swung her hips as best as she could and marched down a carpeted catwalk to the accompaniment of a folk song.
Her audience of pensioners from eastern Germany watched in delight as they spoilt themselves with decaffeinated coffee and cakes in the country’s first department store for the elderly.
“Here they allow you to be old without feeling embarrassed about it,” said Wanda Peters, a 77-year-old retired farmworker from Bremlitz. “Whether we’re talking about the need for a telephone with large buttons or incontinence knickers, you don’t need to be afraid to ask for it here.”
The changing rooms are big enough for two, the aisles wide, and signs written large. The clothes sizes go up to 32 and there are no stairs.
In a plastic booth a 3-D measuring machine gauges the shape and size of shoppers, and clothes can be tailor-made accordingly.
Pensioners have a bigger disposable income than other consumer groups in Germany and its retailers are taking “best agers”, “happy enders”, “new olds” and “generation 55-plus” ever more seriously.
But until the “Seniorenmarkt” (Senior Citizens’ Market) opened its doors, Wanda and her female friends from Bremlitz’s Citizens’ Solidarity club felt neglected.
Angelika Deliga, 46, who set up the store, argues the retail sector focuses overwhelmingly on the young despite the fact that in most regions ' including here in Brandenburg ' a quarter of the population will be over 60 in the next five to 10 years.
After researching her future clients, she stocked up on everything from computers with enlarged keyboards and speaking alarm clocks to magnifying rulers, short-legged support stockings and walkers on wheels.