– Retail reporter 

Eli Greenblat wrote this article for The Sydney Morning Herald on 2nd June 2014.  His research blows the myth that seniors are reluctant to purchase on the internet.

E-commerce gift shopping

An army of baby-boomers, pensioners, and retirees could prove the unlikely salvation of Australia’s anaemic retail sector after the over-65s age bracket emerged as the fastest-growing segment of consumers shopping online.

The over-65s’ sudden discovery of iPads, iPhones and tablets to do their shopping – perhaps egged on by their children and grandchildren – could help resuscitate the fortunes of struggling retailers. Many economists had long been concerned the ageing population would likely spend much less than a nation skewed to a younger demographic, especially on discretionary goods. The normally quiet over-65s grouping, which has been responsible for the smallest proportion of online spending, have raced ahead of their spend-easy children to notch up the fastest growth in online shopping for the 12 months to April, the National Australia Bank Online Retail Sales Index shows.

For the three months to April, the pace of growth of online shopping by over-65s was six times faster than the 35-44 age group. ”The fastest-growing age category is now over-65, who to date have really failed to embrace online to anywhere as the same extent as younger generations,” NAB head of industry analysis Dean Pearson said.

It comes as the 35-44 group actually stalled in terms of online spending over the past year. Mortgage stress, job worries and the cost of living are blamed.

Long sceptical, uninterested or simply befuddled by online shopping, the over-65s make up only 8.3 per cent of the total share, far behind the 35-44 bracket, who lead with 25 per cent of all online shopping.

They are also spending on different categories, spending more on food, groceries and liquor.