Shopping with others or group shopping is commonly seen in shopping malls and retail stores. Consumers shop with others for a variety of reasons, including social motives, to make a common or joint purchase decision, and to help to reduce the risk associated with making an important purchase decision (Hartman & Kiecker, 1991; Kiecker & Hartman, 1993). The shopping companions that help satisfy these needs have been referred to as purchase pals in the consumer behavior literature (Hartman & Kiecker, 1991; Kiecker & Hartman, 1993; Woodside & Sims, 1976). Hartman and Kiecker (1991) define purchase pals as "individuals who accompany buyers on their shopping trips in order to assist them with their on-site purchase decisions" (p. 462). Consistent with this definition, research on purchase pals has focused on the use of purchase pals as information sources to help consumers reduce risk and uncertainty and increase their confidence when making purchase decisions. This perspective coincides with the traditional focus of shopping research on the utilitarian (functional or tangible) product-acquisition aspects of shopping activity as opposed to studying the hedonic (enjoyable or intangible) aspects of the shopping experience (Arnold & Reynolds, 2003). As a result, little attention has been given to the role of purchase pals in helping to satisfy consumers' social motives while shopping or how shopping companions influence consumers' perceptions of their shopping experience, i.e., enjoyment and other hedonic motives. The renewed interest in examining and understanding the hedonic and experiential aspects of shopping that has occurred in the last several years warrants this approach (e.g., Arnold & Reynolds, 2003; Babin, Darden, & Griffin, 1994; Mathwick, Malhotra, & Rigdon, 2001). Continuing this line of reasoning, since shopping can have hedonic qualities and is a form of recreation or leisure for some consumers (Guiry, Magi, & Lutz, 2006; Lehtonen & Maenpaa, 1997; Prus & Dawson, 1991), the present study will examine how the leisure and social dimensions of shopping influence consumers' perception of shopping as a leisure experience, and compare the leisure perceptions of four types of shoppers: 1) social recreational shoppers, 2) nonsocial recreational shoppers, 3) social nonrecreational shoppers, and 4) nonsocial nonrecreational shoppers. Clothing shopping was used as the context of this research since Campbell (1997) found that clothing shopping is a common focus of recreational shopping, and Hartman and Kiecker (1991) observed that purchase pals are commonly used when shopping for clothing.
A greater understanding of social shopping and how the social dimension of shopping influences consumers' perceptions of shopping as a leisure experience not only enriches our knowledge of social and nonsocial shoppers as well as recreational shopping, but also may help retailers develop more effective merchandising, store layout and design, and promotion strategies to target social and nonsocial shoppers as well as recreational and nonrecreational shoppers. In the following sections, the research framework is presented, hypotheses are developed, the research method is described, and the results are reported. Finally, the implications and limitations of the study are discussed and directions for future research are outlined.
Shopping as Leisure
The notion that shopping is a form of recreation or leisure for some consumers has been acknowledged in the marketing and sociology literature. In an early shopper typology study, Bellenger, Robertson, and Greenberg (1977) classified consumers as convenience or recreational shoppers based on their level of interest in shopping as a leisure activity. Recreational shoppers had "a very high level of interest in shopping as a leisure-time activity," whereas convenience shoppers' level of interest was "very low" (pp. …