Retail industry gearing towards men’s purchasing trends

Shopping and retail-therapy seem to be the words most frequently associated with female consumers. Women may buy a new pair of shoes to compensate for something negative that they are experiencing. However, this ritual of therapy shopping can be applied to men as well.

“Typically, I am an emotional shopper. If I have a rough day at work, I will go out and spend money,” says Ty Swihart, a consumer who has focused his past retail remedies on clothing, phones and cars. “I don’t consider it an addiction at all. I use it more as a way to relax and de-stress.”

Ty Swihart considers shopping to be a way to relax and de-stress.

Photo by Brittany FongStereotypically, males are associated with sports, beer, female companionship — not shopping. However, a poll of 2,000 British consumers conducted last year by the firm Npower indicates that men spend an average of $40 per week on retail therapy related purchases, whereas women spend about $30 per week.

Liliane Alain, part-owner of the Stampede Boot Clothing & Co. located on MacLeod Trail S.W., says that there’s a “big difference” in men and women shopping styles.

“Ladies like to take their time, men come in and try on a cowboy boot, and if they like it, they won’t bother looking at anything else,” says Liliane Alain.

In a 2012 article published in the Journal Psychoactive Drugs, psychologist Heidi Hartston says that whether female or male, just the idea of purchasing something new causes hyper-stimulation of dopamine — a neurotransmitter that controls a person’s reward and pleasure levels in the brain.

That dopamine brings about a sense of satisfaction when exchanging currency for a materialistic item.

“Imagine the happiness that you would have if you had just adopted a new puppy. I get the same happiness from the purchase of a new Louis Vuitton bag or an Hermes bracelet,” says Swihart.

In addition, Alain says, “The whole retail industry is gearing towards men now because ladies has always been done. There are now cosmetics for men, which is making a big splash.”

Retailers catering to men

A 2011 article about the impact of men’s appearances, published by three clinical psychologists at the University of Central Florida says, “Popular and previously female-dominated brands like Clinique and Shiseido, have introduced products specifically for male image concerns, including skin care, hair removal products, and wrinkle treatments.” The article continues to say that $3.5 billion of beauty products were purchased by men in 1997 and has only increased since then.

According to Sales of Commodities of Large Retailers, published by Statistics Canada, the purchasing of men’s clothing and accessories has become more popular. The study was done over the course of five years and ended in 2012.

The sales of menswear increased from $4.2 million to $4.3 million between 2011 and 2012. Women’s wear, although still ahead in overall sales, decreased slightly within that same category.

Swihart, who has previous experience in the retail industry, says that he doesn’t have a problem supporting the growing men’s retail market.

“If I find something that I like, I am going to buy it. I have a good job and make a good amount of money, so I really don’t feel bad in spoiling myself.”

bfong@cjournal.ca