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Silver Shopper

Interview with Monika Stocker, former National Councillor and Head of the Department of Social Affairs of the City of Zurich

Erika Sommer and Cristian Büttikofer-Béltran spoke with Monika Stocker.

Monika Stocker, former National and City Councillor (Source: M. Stocker).

How do you assess trends and challenges in the retail sector with regard to older people?

Older people have special needs at different levels: their mobility is limited, many no longer have a car, you don't want to drive far to a shopping mall. What is needed in the immediate vicinity? A grocery store, a cinema and a pharmacy. At best, all this should also be achievable with a rollator.

The new technical developments, such as self-scanning, represent an overload for many older people. In 15 to 20 years, all this will be a matter of course, but for today's older generation, this is too foreign. Vision also decreases with age, making it difficult to type in a code or read product declarations. But today's old people are conscious consumers and want to be well informed about the origin and composition of the products, even in old age.

Older people take everything a little more calmly. When they go shopping, they don't want to be stressed. Older people study the offers in more detail. At the checkout, however, there are situations that are perceived as stress: You have to quickly get the money out of your wallet and pack the purchased things immediately. – Why not create social jobs here, e.B. for migrants? It would be a great help if someone packed the purchased goods, carried them out and maybe even brought them home. These would be small services that would improve the quality of life of the elderly.

With regard to the opening hours of the shops, there is no need for extensions: Old people usually do not leave the house in the evening after 8 pm. Many like to have peace and quiet in the evening.

Which offers are particularly important for older people?

Very important are pharmacies and drugstores. There is advice and customer discussions. That should also be rewarded. The deliberations sometimes have something comforting. The computer does not do this; there are no words of encouragement online.

Here in District 4, I see that new shops are being opened again and again. But it is mainly clothes shops, which is not the shopping field of the older people. These also do not go to Pronto shops, where you shop "quickly", which is rather the need of the working people.

Does shopping also have a social function?

Naturally. Older people often live alone and when you are no longer at work, you have to organize social contacts yourself, e.B. when shopping. I am happy when I can exchange two words with the cashier when paying. Therefore, shopping places should also enable social encounters, for example through seating and cafés.

I have always wished that there would be a pharmacy and perhaps a café at the social centres of the city of Zurich. A social centre should be a house with a social function in the neighbourhood and not just provide material social assistance. You have to invest in social issues to ensure quality.

We have to organize the employment of people who are not highly qualified or not "normally" efficient, this does not come through the "free market". But there is no market in healthcare! The topic of age will show whether we succeed in detaching the issue of quality of life from the economic.

What other offers are needed?

Important are shops with repair service, e.B. shoemaker or tailor. Not all people have enough money to always buy something new. The older generation still has the experience that you can patch something up.

Such services are often offered by individuals. We have to fight for them to have fair rents. New rents are not affordable in line with the market Most of the time it is part of the ground floor use. If we want the neighbourhoods to live, then we have to accommodate these people. More could be done here, especially in the new quarters.

What are the challenges for the city of Zurich?

In the 90 years I have fought for everyone who builds to have to create cribs. That was my credo. The builders must be told that something like a public service is needed. This has to be budgeted differently, which is of course politically sensitive. Today, retirement homes with services should be planned for every new building plan. Zurich could do pioneering work here!

For me, "city of the future" means that personal services are needed that enable human contacts. It has something to do with dignity.

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