By the numbers: The buying power of 55+

The over-55 age group accounted for 30 percent of U.S. clothing sales in 2013, according to global consulting firm A.T. Kearney quoted in the Financial Times in November. That age group also bought about 40 percent of personal care products and services (shampoos, cosmetics and spa days).

If the American clothing market is worth $200 billion, and that broad second category is worth $76 billion – more Kearney numbers quoted by the Times – that’s some serious buying power.

The $276 billion question then becomes: What sells products to that demographic?

Some studies show women say they’re more likely to buy when the model is their age (200 percent more likely, according to one in Canada), while others seem to suggest no difference in buying patterns.

Asked about Charlotte, Southern Shows chairman and longtime fashion aficionado Joan Zimmerman says: “Perhaps the advertisers use younger models because they believe mature women want to look younger. We don’t. We want to look and feel good.”

Helen Schwab