Traditional gender roles play a large part in the differences between male and female shopping behaviour. Since the days of the earliest shopping catalogues, purchasing domestic articles and stocking the kitchen with food items has been viewed as the woman's responsibility. After generations of reliquishing shopping duties to women, men have developed different buying patterns and habits.
The task of shopping has traditionally fallen within the female realm since the opening of early 20th century department stores. According to WomenCertified, females accounted for 83 per cent of consumer spending at the end of the 20th century. Women often see shopping as a recreational pastime, with lots of window shopping and trying on of clothes and shoes. Women value the advice and help of sales associates while deciding what products to buy. Women tend to stick to a budget and use coupons while shopping.
A 1995 study by Dholakia, et al., found that only 10 per cent of grocery shopping was done by men. Male shoppers are more at ease going to Sears, Lowes, or Home Depot to buy tools, building materials and other products. Many men will avoid shopping at stores perceived to be feminine. Men are utilitarian shoppers, seeking to quickly and efficiently complete a task with a minimum of social interaction and unneccessary effort.
Men usually shop alone, while women often shop in groups of three or four to maximise the social aspects of shopping. Men want to zero in on the product, check out quickly and leave the store as soon as possible. Women spend more time lingering, comparative pricing and enjoying the consumer experience. Men don't seek assistance from sales personnel or use shopping lists as often as women, according to an Australian study by Gary Mortimer and Peter Clarke.
As traditional gender roles change, men and women share many retail shopping behaviours. Both sexes research products beforehand and plan their shopping forays, especially when buying high-priced electronics, cars or houses. Professional working women are more involved in selecting big-ticket products. More men shop as the number of working mothers increases. Both sexes appreciate helpful salespeople, easy checkout and convenient parking. In the early 21st century, more men and women shop together or view shopping as a family activity.
- Access my Library; Perceptions and Realities of Male Shopping Behavior; Otnes; et al.; March 22, 2001
- Knowledge Wharton: 'Men Buy, Women Shop': The Sexes Have Different Priorities When Walking Down the Aisles
- University of Michigan; Evolved Foraging Psychology Underlies Sex Differences in Shopping Experiences and Behaviors; Daniel Kruger; Dreyson Byker; 2009