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Amid tough economic times, Makro opts to keep pensioner discounts in place

Makro says it had identified this need early in the pandemic and quickly adapted to the changing shopping habits of consumers at that time.Picture: Karen Sandison (ANA)

Makro says it had identified this need early in the pandemic and quickly adapted to the changing shopping habits of consumers at that time.Picture: Karen Sandison (ANA)

Published Jul 4, 2022

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Amid tough economic times, retailer Makro has vowed to keep its discount offering to pensioners in place – a measure it first adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This means South Africans over the age of 60 can claim a discount at Makro stores every day of the week.

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Massmart wholesale national commercial sales manager Andrietta van Veijeren said that while they had introduced this programme at the height of the pandemic lockdown to ensure shoppers could visit their stores conveniently and safely, they have now decided to extend it indefinitely.

Makro said it had identified the need early in the pandemic and quickly adapted to the changing shopping habits of consumers at that time. It said that by extending this offer indefinitely, Makro also continued to assist senior citizens during hard economic times.

Increasing petrol prices, lower take home pay and higher taxes on pension payments were just some of the factors pushing Makro to review their value proposition for a growing but sometimes financially-stretched customer segment.

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Van Veijeren said that they were constantly looking at how they could make their customers’ lives better by giving them flexibility and convenience.

The number of elderly people aged 60 and over grew from 7.6 percent to 9.1 percent of the population in 2020, according to Stats SA. Makro said it wanted to do more for these customers.

“Life expectancy is also estimated to increase within this consumer segment, which is why we are putting down a clear strategy going forward to best serve their needs. For example, the discount is only available in-store and we need to consider what other value-adds we can bring to the growing online shoppers in this demographic,” Van Veijeren said.

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Makro has found that senior shoppers were looking for good deals on general merchandise, and the habit of bulking up on essentials, so common during lockdown, had stayed with them.

“Since May 2020, there has been an increased interest in our mSenior card, which offers senior citizens up to 10 percent on general merchandise and up to 5 percent on fresh food-related items, excluding products that are already on promotion,” Van Veijeren said.

Stats SA estimates the mid-year population of the country in 2020 was 59.62 million; about 51.1 percent (30.5 million) is female, while 5.43 million people were aged 60 and over.

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The agency said vulnerabilities evident in this age group include the need for social assistance programmes, easy access to cash transfers, food programmes and access to health care. The Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted a need in South Africa to protect the elderly.

Stats SA said developed countries with older populations had experienced significantly higher numbers of Covid-related deaths among this group. However, developed countries also had better functioning health systems. Although the health burden might be greater in developed countries due to their age profile, they had a greater ability to meet it.

It said South Africa, recognising its vulnerabilities, immediately responded with a lockdown to curb the spread and flatten the curve to provide its health care systems the opportunity to prepare themselves to deal with the pandemic.

The agency’s data showed that life expectancy at birth in South Africa in 2020 had improved to 62.5 years for males and 68.5 years for females.

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