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50+ Shopping: Do YOU fit the profile?

Our latest Getting to Know the 50+ fact sheet profiles 50+ Americans' shopping habits in a couple areas. I decided to see how well our average American shopper matched up with my own habits.

Car shopping

Sixty percent of adults 50+ have two or more cars. This may come as a surprise to some, but not if you are in the car business. The 50+ are this industry's "bread and butter," as 63 percent of new cars in 2012 were purchased by the 50+. Further, Americans 50+ are not overly car brand loyal - when asked, only 25 percent said they will definitely buy the same make of vehicle they currently have.

I fit this profile perfectly. I have three cars:  a 19-year-old German brand, a 17-year-old American brand and a British brand I just purchased April 19. I bought the car of my dreams as it may be the last car I ever purchase.

I am also among the 29 percent who say they drive less/use alternative transport on a regular basis since I walk to work every day and take Amtrak from my home to D.C. every week. I drive about 3,000 miles a year.

✔ I fit the 50+ profile


Grocery Shopping

Over half (53%) spend $100 per week and 19% spend $200 more per week. It would be hard for me to fit here as I am single and only go to the grocery store every two weeks. I spend about $125 per month and that's largely because I buy mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, which tend to be more expensive per serving than frozen food.

Only 1% have shopped online in the past week. In this case I'm similar to the average: I have never shopped online for groceries. I really like to look at the fresh produce especially the seasonal and local specials.

I don't actually know how much my grocery bills have gone up over the last ten years. However, I can relate to the 66% who now say they spend $100 a week or more on groceries (up from 40% 9 years ago). If those folks just buy milk, eggs and cereal for a family of four they could be in this statistic.

✔ Not Even Close to the 50+ Profile


ECO @ Home

Finally, most folks are recycling regularly - 69 percent. Hooray for the 50+who fill those blue bins at work and pull them out for garbage pick-up at home. I take all my recyclables to my town dump once a month. I stop at the recycle section, then go to the general garbage and finally the grass/leaf area. You should see the cars line up on Saturday just before the noon closing. You would think they were giving away Dunkin' Donuts.

The 71 percent who use energy efficient light bulbs confused me. Where can you buy non LED bulbs today? Did the 29 percent load up before the universal switch to LED?

Forty-one percent say they use less water at home - easy to achieve if you can get any teenagers in your house to take less than a 10-minute shower two or three times a day.

Thirty-six percent say they buy locally grown food. It should be mandatory that towns have farmers markets on the weekend, in my opinion. The fruits and vegetables from the farmers market I go to really do taste better. Radishes are my favorite purchase for $2 a bunch.

Finally, 20 percent buy eco-friendly household cleaning products. I'm afraid I'm in the guilty 80 percent here - I buy what picks up the dirt and grime the best based on the many TV ads I see. I love the Oxy Clean commercials where the spills disappear as if by magic!

✔ I fit the 50+ Profile


For two out of three I'm pretty average! And here I thought I was unique. Check out our latest fact sheet on home and shopping trends to see how you match up:

home and shopping fact sheet

More research from AARP:

Getting to Know Americans Age 50+: Fact Sheet Series 

Becky Gillan is the senior vice president of AARP Research and is focused on fostering understanding of the interests and concerns of people age 50-plus and their families. Before coming to AARP, she served as the vice president of Global Market Research & Guest Satisfaction for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In her spare time, she likes visiting her niece in Ohio, gardening and collecting American art and antiques.

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