Why Women Really Are Born to Shop (but Men Are Better at It)

Daily Mail (London), July 8, 1999 | Go to article overview

Why Women Really Are Born to Shop (but Men Are Better at It)


Byline: JULIETTE DOMINGUEZ

IT COMES as no surprise that women are more interested in shopping than men, but now it has been scientifically proven.

According to retail anthropologist Paco Underhill, women were genetically designed to shop.This dates back to prehistoric times, when a woman's role was as a homebound gatherer of fruits, while the male went out to hunt.

Women's shopping today may be more sophisticated but, claims Underhill, the principle is the same. He spent hours studying film from closed circuit TV cameras to analyse men and women's shopping habits. He reveals his findings to JULIETTE DOMINGUEZ.

Men do shop differently

SHOPPING is still, and always will be, meant mostly for females.

Shopping is female.

When men shop it is a chore but when women shop it is a pleasure - walking at a relaxed pace through stores, examining merchandise, comparing products and values, interacting with sales staff, asking questions, trying things on, and ultimately making purchases.

Men on the other hand see it as a business transaction.

They go straight to what they want and leave quickly unless they are in computer or car shops, where they will gather information.

Men spend less time looking, too. It is very difficult to persuade them to look at anything they hadn't intended to buy.

They also usually don't like asking where things are.

They shop the way they drive - if a man can't find the section he's looking for, he'll wheel about once or twice, then give up and leave the store without asking for help.

Men go straight for the kill

THE researchers found that 65pc of male shoppers who tried something on bought it, as opposed to 25pc of female shoppers.

This is because when a man takes clothing into a dressing room, the only thing that stops him from buying it is if it doesn't fit. Women try things on as part of the consideration process and garments that fit may be rejected on other grounds.

Women study price tags

WHILE 86pc of women look at price tags when they shop, only 72pc of men do.

For a man, it is a question of pride - he doesn't want anyone to think he can't afford it.

Also, unlike women, men are so anxious to get out of the store they'll say yes to almost anything, even if it is more than they can afford.

Men hate lists

IN ONE supermarket study, the researchers counted how many shoppers were armed with lists. Almost all the women were, while only a quarter of the men were. Instead, a man ends up throwing things in the basket without considering the practicalities of what he is buying or whether he needs it.

Add in a couple of children with Dad and you've got a lethal combination because he's notoriously bad at saying no. Part of being a father is being the provider, after all. It goes to the heart of a man's self-image.

Women are more fussy

A GOOD example, taken from a recent study for an Italian supermarket chain, comes directly from a camera trained on the meat counter.

A middle-aged woman began examining packages of mince methodically, one by one. As she shopped a man strode up and after a moment chose a package and sped away. The woman continued going through meat.

Then came a couple with a baby.

The wife hung back while her husband picked up a package, gave it a quick once-over and brought it back to their trolley. His wife inspected it and shook her head. …

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