Local shops have a real opportunity to make colourful margins from the 'grey pound', a survey by pensioners' magazine Mature Times has found.

The survey of more than 1,000 over-65s revealed high levels of dissatisfaction with the services offered by supermarkets and larger stores.

Just under 40% of pensioners living alone said they endured severe difficulties when doing their grocery shopping in large stores, with unhelpful staff cited as one of the biggest gripes.

Just over 40% of respondents also said that they had difficulties carrying heavy shopping bags.

The news will be welcomed by the many c-store owners who already run a wide variety of services, including home delivery for their elderly shoppers.

Sue White, supervisor at the Nisa Local store in Toddington, Bedfordshire, said small shops were best placed to help the elderly and infirm.

Each week she visits 12 elderly shoppers in their homes before assembling their goods at the shop and dropping them off at the end of the day. "I think of the store as being jointly owned by ourselves and our customers. We do everything in our power to help make their lives easier," she said.