Retiring Boomers can be supermarket assets

May 01, 2012

The rapid pace of Boomer retirements could create a vast pool of mature part-time workers for food stores.

Boomers age 65 are taking unexpectedly rapid paths to retire, rather than trying to work longer to help offset the recession’s impact on their life savings, house values and earnings prospects.

Nearly six in ten (59%) of the first Boomers to turn 65 are at least partially retired—45% no longer work and 14% have gone to part-time work, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute study called Transitioning Into Retirement: The MetLife Study of Baby Boomers at 65.

Almost all of the rest of Boomers age 65 and older (37%) plan to retire within a year.

Most survey respondents (63%) already augment their resources by collecting Social Security—and they did so on average, by age 63 even though they’d receive a higher payout if they waited until age 66.

By contrast, the latest Merrill Edge Report shows that 57% of working mass affluent Americans expect to retire later than they planned a year ago. This figure is a full 36% higher than the one Merrill reported in January 2011. Merrill defines mass affluents as consumers with $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets.

The Lempert Report sees two relevant points for supermarkets from these studies:
•    First, Boomers will continue to have money to spend and will continue to be important shoppers—often seeking more information on nutrition (healthful eating) and cooking (a pastime, and a way to save).

•    Second, Boomers that want to keep part-time work in their restaged lives, and want extra money if they feel they under-estimated their income needs, represent a vast reliable, mature and skilled part-time labor pool for supermarkets. This idea isn’t entirely new, but it bears repeating because these Boomers will be available in larger numbers and stores will be able to be more selective. There’s plenty to mine in this pool, we feel. Mature workers can help make younger workers more sensitive to the needs of older shoppers, and overall demonstrate an admirable work ethic that will rub off on the younger work force.