Shirts with huge buttons, signs with enormous fonts and talking price tags could be typical fixtures in apparel stores 20 years from now. That’s because the roughly 80 million Baby Boomers, who make up more than one quarter of the U.S. population — according to the 2000 U.S. Census — will be between 60 and 78 years old by 2024. Those seniors could be shopping at new stores designed especially for them, with names such as Gap Antique (Gap-tique?) or American Elder.

This story first appeared in the October 18, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Shirts could come premade with double-ended button loops to make it easier to button dress shirts; pant zippers could come prefabricated with magnifying lenses and detachable levers to more easily move zippers up and down, and store aisles could be wider to accommodate a larger amount of electric-powered Lark scooters.

However, given ever-advancing technology, perhaps shopping will be similar to a scene out of Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Minority Report.” Stores’ computer sensors could scan eyes and offer clothing selections based on past purchases saved in databases. Or advertisements could alert specific passersby.

Even still, it could be that shopping at home on the Internet will have become so advanced that physical trips to the store will be altogether unnecessary, what with computers being an everyday tool for many of today’s Boomers. Sophisticated body imaging technology could show a customer what clothing will look like on their exact body. That way, shoppers could watch themselves on their computer screens walk and move with a chosen outfit on before even purchasing it.

— Meredith Derby

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