Active adult retail

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Active adult retail is a specific category of age-targeted specialty shops and professional services strategically catering to the daily needs of active adults.

Active adults, also known as leading-edge baby boomers and those somewhat older, are characterized as people who are aged 55 years or older, and who can still walk. The importance of active adults to the retail market are significant. They are recognized as one of the largest, fastest growing and wealthiest segments of the US population.

Beginning in 2006, adult adults will continue to turn 60 at a rate of 10,000 a day for the next 18 years. They also control 77% of the US wealth–almost $2 trillion in buying power.[1]

The term, active adult retail is credited to Rick Abelson,[2] (b. September 23, 1960) an urban planner who first analyzed the nexus between age-targeted residential communities, active adult housing, active adult communities and the specific retail needs for the same population.[3] His model outlines a generational lifestyle district between 150,000 to 200,000 sq ft (14,000 to 19,000 m2) that responds to the daily needs of active adults, offering a balanced tenant mix consisting of 40% specialty shops, 30% health, financial and educational services and 30% food positioned as entertainment. The model is widely used by national retail developers and community planners to test and adjust their under performing convenience shopping centers located in aging-in-place communities throughout the United States.

Active adults are known to have different shopping habits than those of other age groups. Their retail motivation is based on a strong pattern of convenient daily needs and their shopping experience and expectations are unique from the general population. Surveys show that active adults are less patient when they shop. They have limited disposable income and carefully prioritize their discretionary spending. They are drawn to products and services that are value based and give a psychological lift. Overall they are seeking a retail experience that can be characterized as cozy, casual and convenient.[4]

In Rebecca Hardin's 2006 article, Getting to Easy Street: Active Adult Retail Comes of Age for the National Association of Home Builders' 50+ magazine, she interviews and published quotes from home builders, master plan community developers, retailers and leasing professionals validating the importance of active adult retail. On the subject, Ralph Spargo, Senior Vice President, Active Adult Division, Standard Pacific Homes in Irvine, CA states that "Active adult retail reflects the market it aims to serve, which comes in a multitude of family configurations and desires about how to live." Ed Friedrichs, co-Founder of the Friedrichs Group, San Francisco, CA says, "Examples abound for high revenues per square foot. If a product or service is very explicitly marketed to a particular segment, it will generate the revenues required, even in a very condensed space." Randall Lewis, Executive Vice President of The Lewis Group of Companies in Upland, CA notes "(Active adult retail) challenges conventional perceptions of development. The retail/residential cross-pollination is particularly valuable for companies creating mixed-use and master-planned projects." Scott Riddles, Executive Vice President for the Staubach Companies explains, "In today's big communities, you see everything except integrated retail. Builders and developers who weave appropriate retail in from initial planning stages are providing an exceptional amenity that will differentiate their community from the competition."

Architects, planners, journalists and researchers continue to analyze, interpret and calibrate the impact and dominance of active adults on retailing over the next twenty years. The following wide ranging resources and information link to additional relevant perspectives including: active adult retailing,[5], a sample building program and tenant list for an active adult retail village in Santa Maria, CA, [6], a report from the McKinsey Global Institute on the huge importance of active adults on the US economy and retailing[7], a Business Week magazine cover story on active adults new attitudes and lifestyles being a retailer's marketing dream [8], a review in Entrepreneur Magazine of the best selling book called Marketing To Leading-Edge Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices, Predictions,[9] and the AARP bibliography link to books on active adults and their impact on retailing. [10]

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