Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

The 'consumer logistics' of how senior citizens grocery shop, and its relationship to urban planning

Sure, the car-free city sounds great, but what if you’ve got four bags of groceries and a two-mile trek home? And you’re 80?

The challenges of mobility increase dramatically with age, and that’s becoming ever more clear for cities as populations tip into the senior side of the spectrum. A new research effort is looking into the common problems of mobility faced by senior citizens to help improve city planning. Operating under the assumption that people rarely move within and around cities empty-handed, the researchers hope to compile user-generated data from senior citizens to better understand how their regular shopping trips to the grocery store might be improved.

The research is being led by Helene Brembeck, Professor of Ethnology at the Centre for Consumer Science (CFK) at the University of Gothenburg, and consists of a group of seniors who are asked to record their grocery purchases and photograph the bags and carts they use to haul groceries, plus a field study by researchers of the seniors’ “shopping landscape.”

“This form of consumer logistics is a forgotten aspect of urban planning,” says Brumbeck. “We consider it a good starting point, for improved consumer logistics for the elderly, to look at how senior citizens deal with their daily logistics, what kind of problems they face and what ideas they have for improvements.”

The logistics of grocery shopping is one of those basic functions of people in cities. And though it’s often taken for granted, the act of getting to and from the store can pose challenges. By looking into how easy it is for the elderly to accomplish this basic task, the researchers could offer some new ideas for cities with aging populations. Cities are places for many age groups. This research could point to ways that places can improve their urban design and transportation options to serve a range of ages and needs.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A sign outside a storefront in Buffalo, New York.
    Environment

    Will Buffalo Become a Climate Change Haven?

    The Western New York city possesses a distinct mix of weather, geography, and infrastructure that could make it a potential climate haven. But for whom?

  2. photo: A vacant home in Oakland that is about to demolished for an apartment complex.
    Equity

    Fix California’s Housing Crisis, Activists Say. But Which One?

    As a controversy over vacancy in the Bay Area and Los Angeles reveals, advocates disagree about what kind of housing should be built, and where.

  3. photo: a high-speed train in Switzerland
    Transportation

    The Case for Portland-to-Vancouver High-Speed Rail

    At the Cascadia Rail Summit outside Seattle, a fledgling scheme to bring high-speed rail from Portland to Vancouver found an enthusiastic reception.

  4. A syringe sits on top of a car. Houses are behind it.
    Life

    The Changing Geography of the Opioid Crisis

    A new study shows that the country faces different opioid challenges in urban and rural areas.

  5. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

×