With June being Seniors’ Month, Quinte News is looking at the impact that those 65 and over have on our community and more specifically, on local businesses.
Close to 20% of the Quinte Region’s population falls into the senior category, with the area’s cost of living, natural amenities and sometimes slower pace to life, being attractive qualities for the area to have.
But it’s not just seniors relocating here that’s making a difference for the local economy.
Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board Executive Director Dug Stevenson says there are plenty of older people who find our area attractive as a place to visit and spend some cash.
“One of the things that’s interesting is when you consider seniors’ spending,” he says.
“Of course they’re on a fixed income, but they have fewer things they need to pay for as well. They probably don’t have a mortgage anymore, the kids are probably gone and they’re not worried about paying for things like education, so they’ve probably got a bit more set aside for that leisure spending.”
Stevenson says from a travel and tourism perspective, the seniors group is actually more comparable to millennials, who range between the ages of 22 and 38.
“A lot of them have no strings attached. They have a fixed income, but have money set aside and they know what they want to do and go do it,” he says.
Quinte West Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Andrews says seniors who live in the area have a strong impact on the economy, but not just as consumers of goods.
“They access a lot of services,” she says. “Things like health services, some of which are privately owned businesses, or they go to hairdressers and restaurants. So definitely they are a huge economic factor when looking at the local economy and consumer spending in our region.”
Andrews also noted that while many seniors do move to our area to retire, not all of them want to get out of work completely, which adds to the local workforce.
“We are finding here in the Quinte Region especially, seniors are choosing to continue to work, maybe not at a full time level, but are available to work and look for positions that fit their experience and knowledge,” she says. “That’s definitely something for employers to think about.”
Morgan Foran of Meta Employment services backed that up saying they’re seeing a jump in the number of seniors looking for work as well.
“We’ve seen an increase in the last couple of years in indivuduals who either don’t want to retire, or have been in a long term position and the company is closed, but there are a lot of seasoned workers for sure that are still actively looking.”
She says the modern job market can be challenging to navigate and there are some things they need to help more mature workers with.
“I think it’s just the ever changing technology” she says. “When it comes to the actual job, I think they have the expertise to do the job themselves, but it’s more the way things have changed with applying for positions and things being done online and the ways you have to apply.”
“How to look for work is how we’re helping right now.”
Meta’s Sandra Leslie added those senior workers are actually making a big difference in improving the local workforce.
“There are benefits to having seniors in the workforce,” she says, “They bring such a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position and often they act as a mentor to the younger or newer staff. That’s really important. To have those multiple generations in the workforce and the workplace, so that you have that diversity to support all of your customers and to share that knowledge.”
Meanwhile Cassandra Bonn, a marketing specialist with 25 years experience at ad agencies, large and small, and now employed with Quinte Broadcasting, says business owners would be wrong to ignore marketing to today’s seniors.
“Most seniors are no longer frail and dependent but instead are very active with many living in their own homes into their 90s and continuing to work and play golf, ski, garden, and travel. Many have more disposable income than they ever had. Seniors are active and consistent contributors to our economy.”
When asked which media are best to reach seniors Bonn admitted a bias working at Quinte Broadcasting but says her experience shows that a combination of radio and digital marketing works best for business.
“Locally there are many great radio options, including the area’s first radio station, CJBQ 800 AM, whose programming is geared to the 55 + cohort and dominates the demographic. Social media, such as Facebook, is also vital to a marketing strategy because more and more seniors are very active online.