BUSINESSES in Yorkshire are under-estimating the spending power of the over-65s, according to a report.
People in this age group boosted the UK economy by an estimated £37 billion last year through their hotel and travel spending - 27 per cent higher than the second biggest spenders, 35-54 year olds.
Yet the UK hospitality and leisure sector missed out on at least a further £16 billion through failing to properly target older consumers, said the report by Barclays Corporate Banking.
Just three per cent of businesses in Yorkshire saw over-65s as the most important group in terms of sales and revenue for their company.
As many as 35 per cent of Yorkshire businesses saw 35-44 year olds as their priority target market.
Almost seven in 10 Yorkshire businesses had no plans to introduce products or services specifically targeted at big-spending pensioners.
Barclays said that, without action, the missed opportunity was only set to increase, in line with the ageing population.
It added that the total annual spend of over-65s could grow to at least £57 billion by 2025.
Debbie Mullen, head of corporate for Barclays in Yorkshire, said: “It is clear from the report that the over-65 age group is a huge and untapped opportunity for the hospitality and leisure sector with the UK.
“There appears to be a gulf between the perception and reality of the spending power of over-65s.
“By not fully focusing on the needs of this generation, and the revenue growth opportunity they represent, businesses may risk missing out on their share of £16 billion this year alone.”
She added: “In Yorkshire we have found that almost half of businesses in the sector expect that the proportion of their turnover generated by over-65s will increase over the next five years.
“Yet very few businesses are planning to introduce any products or services aimed at the currently ‘overlooked generation’.
“By investing in targeting these customers now, businesses can pre-empt the effects of an ageing population, ensuring they are able to meet and capitalise on the increasing demand.”
Kate McMullen, of tourism body Visit York, said visitors to the city in the over-65s bracket were “especially loyal”.
“Our campaigns attract interest across all age groups and genders and what’s interesting to see is that our over-65 visitors are especially loyal, with over 90 per cent returning for a repeat visit.”
Tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire declined to comment.