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. Life

    The Cities Americans Want to Flee, and Where They Want to Go

    An Apartment List report reveals the cities apartment-hunters are targeting for their next move—and shows that tales of a California exodus may be overstated.

  2. photo: a pair of homes in Pittsburgh
    Equity

    The House Flippers of Pittsburgh Try a New Tactic

    As the city’s real estate market heats up, neighborhood groups say that cash investors use building code violations to encourage homeowners to sell.  

  3. A man wearing a suit and tie holds an American flag at a naturalization ceremony.
    Life

    The New Geography of American Immigration

    The foreign-born population has declined in U.S. states that voted Democratic in 2016, and increased in states and metros that voted for Trump.

  4. Life

    Can Toyota Turn Its Utopian Ideal Into a 'Real City'?

    The automaker-turned-mobility-company announced last week it wants to build a living, breathing urban laboratory from the ground up in Japan.

  5. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

×