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Men are from Mars, Women like to shop

How the difference between the sexes affects your holiday sales.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the November 1999 issue of Subscribe »

It should come as no surprise that the sexes are planets apart when it comes to shopping.

It also comes as no surprise that women are the primary holiday shoppers in the United States. According to 1998-1999 statistics from the International Mass Retailers Association, women do the majority of holiday shopping in 58 percent of households and share that duty with men in 20 percent of households. Men are the primary shoppers in just 18 percent of households.

This is important information as the holidays approach, whatever you're selling. First off, you need to know women start shopping earlier than men; the IMRA says two thirds of women start shopping by the weekend after Thanksgiving. Women are also more likely to shop at discount department stores for gifts and clothing because these stores typically offer one stop shopping. Contrast this with--no surprise here--the fact that nearly one third of men usually haven't started shopping 10 days before Christmas. And when men do shop, they're more likely to buy large consumer electronics products, power tools and other home improvement items. However, these days, both men and women are equally likely to shop on the Internet.

Men also spend about 15 percent more than women do on their gifts: $1,032 on average for men vs. $901 on average for women.

Contact Sources

IMRA: For more details on holiday shopping and for updated statistics, check out All survey results, with charts, are available under "Holiday Information."

Julia Miller is a Los Angeles business writer specializing in sales and marketing.

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