Almost a quarter of a million elderly people in Scotland visit supermarkets to give them a reason to leave the house, according to a charity.
Research published by Age Scotland estimates about 248,401 people aged over 60 make the journey to local retailers as a way to combat feeling lonely.
The figures were released as part of the charity’s campaign, No-one should have no-one, to tackle loneliness and isolation.
It aims to prevent loneliness among family, friends and neighbours by offering a helping hand or asking local support groups if they need help.
A TNS poll carried out for Age UK in November found 72,703 people aged over 60 said they would have “no-one to talk to” if they did not visit a supermarket.
The figures also show that 115,000 of over-60s visit a supermarket every day and a further 418,000 go at least two or three times per week.
An overwhelming majority (86%) of those over 60 agreed that there should be more help readily available for lonely older people.
Age Scotland estimates more than 100,000 older people in Scotland are “chronically lonely”, with bereavement and ill health having an impact.
Charity chief executive Keith Robson said supermarkets and local shops are “very much on the front-line” in battling loneliness among older people.
He said: “As people age, their local area usually matters a lot more to them than it did when they were younger because they spend more time in it, and this new research shows that supermarkets are very much part of the community and that they fulfil an important social function for many older people.
“A friendly chat with a member of staff working at the till or walking the shop floor can brighten up an older person’s day and do much more good than most of us would ever guess.
“So we would like to encourage every supermarket, and everyone who works in one, to be outgoing and cheerful with their older customers.”