Age-friendly retail examples from Japan

I recently witnessed business literally walk out the door of a small pastry shop in England.

What reminded me of this was Dick Stroud’s blog article Physiological ageing and the consumer – a coffee shop is a good place to start.

Dick references an Economist article that cites examples of retail establishments making efforts to become age-friendly. Specifically:

1) Ueshima coffee shops

  • Wider aisles
  • Sturdier chairs
  • Lower tables
  • Food is mostly mushy rather than crunchy: sandwiches, salads, bananas-nothing too hard to chew.
  • Staff carry items to customers’ tables
  • The name and menu are written in Japanese kanji rather than Western letters, in a large, easy-to-read font.


Interestingly and importantly, in a Ueshima store a medium-sized coffee is ¥380, about 10% more than at Starbucks.

2) Keio department store:

  • Chairs for weary shoppers
  • Signs are in large fonts
  • Many salespeople are in their 50s and 60s
  • The food hall promotes old-fashioned Japanese noodles rather than modern Western imported convenience food.
  • The shelves are lower, so older people can reach them.
  • Loyalty cards at Keio award points not according to what you buy, but according to how often you visit.

The critical thing about these initiatives is that they need not discourage or deter younger shoppers. Subtle integration will lead to an age-friendly environment that recognizes the differences of older physiology without alienating the young.

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