Will you spend 8 years of your life shopping?

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A huge thank you to reader KT for sending me to this podcast.

How much of your life will you spend shopping? After listening to “Men are from Sears: Women are from Bloomingdale’s” on CBC Radio’s Under the Influence I’m even more determined to keep myself out of both online and brick and mortar shops. I learned that women spend an average of 8 years of their life shopping.

I’ve heard these kind of statistics before about everything from sitting on the toilet to driving. They all bummed me out. Who wants their life to be boiled down into years doing one usually not so enlightening task?

This one is a bit different. I can change that number. But it won’t be easy.

It seems biology and the mighty retailer are conspiring against me. Not only is my brain wired to want to shop more than a man’s but every store knows this. So when I walk into Sephora, or even Home Depot, everything from the store displays to the way the sales clerk talks to me is meant to make me buy, buy, buy.

A few fascinating tidbits from this podcast:

For men shopping is a mission. They are task oriented, twice as likely to be last minute shoppers and will pay an average of 10% more for an item.

Women scan and gaze while they shop. They have better peripheral vision, they meander and need more detail about an item to make a purchase than a man does. They look at things they didn’t intend to buy.

Shopping ‘fever’ starts young. 81% of girls age 16-19 find shopping an enjoyable day out compared to 45% of boys.

Women will make 301 shopping trips in a year equivalent to 400 hours. Ninety trips will be for things to better their appearance, 30 for clothes, 15 for shoes, 18 for accessories, 27 for toiletries and 51 trips for window shopping. Window shopping trips for men in a year: 0.

For 30% women shopping is an activity to cheer them up.

Listen to the podcast for more on selling strategies and how one retailer redesigned their parking lot for a female driver’s ease of parking.


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    • Are those statistics mind blowing? If you listen to the podcast it gives more information on physical gender differences – brain and eye sight – that make women ‘better’ shoppers.

  • Interesting! I believe it! Just based on myself, before my minimalist life, when I used to live in a house, I think I was shopping every day (in person and online combined)! There was always something to buy, either clothes for my family or things for the house, things for the car, things for the dog, things that were “needed” things that were wanted, gifts for friends, etc. Now that I live in my RV I hardly buy anything any more.

  • Hmm, so my sister is the “normal” one and I’m weird. I think shopping is boring and try to do as little as possible, whereas shopping is her favorite hobby.

  • 301 shopping trips a year is practically one every day..Ugh. But in these days of internet shopping (if that is counted) I believe it.
    I hardly ever go in the stores anymore but internet shopping is just too easy. I’m on a mission to avoid it.

    • I can believe it too. If I don’t meal plan or stack errands together I end up visiting shops a few times a week. Even if it is just to get apples from the corner store because we are out. I also order groceries online once a week and every 2 months I order specialty items from an online natural food store.

  • Wow!! I have never shopped that much before!! Even before I went a year without buying any clothes!! I have always hated shopping. Now after THE year, I hate it even more. You might find the book “Brandwashing” by Martin Lindstrom interesting. I found it a fun, quick, entertaining read. It makes you think when you are shopping whether it be for groceries or clothes etc. This book is his latest (I haven’t read his others), but he also wrote “Buyology” and possible a few others.

  • As a couple, we are clearly wired up the wrong way round. Shopping makes my heart sink and my husband’s soar.
    It doesn’t matter if it’s food, clothes, luggage or saucepans.

  • I find myself shopping more as I am picky about what I purchase (example being shoes) and don’t want to throw away dollars and space on items I don’t need or use regularly.

    More often than not, I do not enjoy shopping. On the days I do, it is because I am easily finding what I need as opposed to spending a day looking in vain for that just right piece of clothing (and coming up unsuccessful!). I am thankful for Internet shopping! It helps me find items in minutes that would probably take me days of driving and looking to find in brick and mortar stores.

    • More often than not, I do not enjoy shopping. On the days I do, it is because I am easily finding what I need as opposed to spending a day looking in vain for that just right piece of clothing (and coming up unsuccessful!).

      This. An acquaintance once told me about her investment in a stylist to revamp her wardrobe. The stylist went ahead to a few stores, picked out clothing in her size that all worked together, and then came back with her to try things on. She said it was the best shopping experience, no hunting for things, everything fit and in the end she had a wardrobe that fit her and her lifestyle. I need to find a friend to do that for me :)

  • This is so, so interesting! I’ve gotten better about window shopping, but I notice when I run in for something, I end up looking at a lot more. For example, we went to Target last night to find some elusive organic peanut butter, but they didn’t have any. I ended up taking a detour, and we came out with cat litter, not the peanut butter I just needed to run in for. Generally, I end up being a window shopper as I don’t buy much, but you’re right–it’s just time wasted on a ridiculous thing!

  • Happy that I could help out. These are crazy facts, but I hope that with a little knowledge you can be aware and avoid the tactics. Although I was grocery shopping this morning and before I checked out I emptied my cart of about $50 of stuff I did not need, but picked up because it caught my attention.

    It’s funny that every time I walk into a store your blog comes into my mind and although I do not know you, I feel that you are talking to me and helping me to stop spending!! After careful planning and being more aware of how and why we are spending, I am happy to say that we spent $15K less in 2011 than we did in 2010. Thanks for keeping us inspired!!

    • Thanks again for the link. I’m excited to listen to more of the podcasts.

      $15k??!! That is amazing. Have you noticed a difference in home life or stress with the reduction in stress? Do your children notice that you are spending less? Well done!

      • I wish that I could say something truly inspiring, but the truth is that as a family we agreed to be more conscious about our spending. We try and think before we buy things, and have significantly curbed unnecessary spending.

        Our motivation is that we are building a new house, so when the kids ask for something they don’t need we ask them if they would rather have a new house or XYZ, sometimes they grumble but for the most part they have not noticed as they still get a lot from their grandparents.

        Stress level has not really changed. We have been very fortunate to have great jobs and, for the most part, have not spent beyond our means. But when we sat down and reviewed our finances we realized that there were a lot of things we were spending on that we did not need. These included eating out, expensive groceries, alcohol, books, kids clothing etc.
        As I said it was easy to cut back as we had a really good motivating factor. I just hope that we have made a habit of it and that we no longer have that motivation, we can continue on.

        • KT – I think that is truly inspiring. You’ve made a goal as a family and you’re working towards it together. You’re children are learning about the work, and choices, involved with meeting that goal.

          I hope that once Henry is older we can have similar discussions about spending. I’d like for him to know that we don’t buy X because we want to do Y.

  • There is a one-man broadway show called Defending the Caveman and a good chunk of it is about men/women-hunter/gatherer and how that translates into shopping. It’s hilarious and so true!
    I’ve been the quality over quantity sister that really doesn’t enjoy shopping with my quanity over quality sisters for a long, long time. They make fun of me when I say I’ll actually go shopping with them, but I just drink a good coffee and go along for the stroll and drive them from place to place. I still want to spend time with them. I’m also the realist, if it isn’t the perfect color/or look perfect on them, I feel I need to tell them!
    In many ways, I think it’s bad for me to go shopping with them, and my mother who worked in retail and is used to encouraging people to buy, buy, buy. I just stay out of the dressing rooms, I decide before I set out, that I’m buying a coffee, we’re having lunch, and I’ll tote their bags along with my kiddos in the stroller.

    • This is nice to hear. You can still partake in the social aspect of a shopping trip – even if you are not buying anything.
      Defending the Caveman sounds fun! Wonder if it will ever come to the Isle of Man… :)

    • I love this post and this comment. I would say I stopped shopping. Or at least decreased by 80-90% when we bought a house and had a baby. We’re really on a budget now and use the envelope system. It’s just not there to spend. But I do miss spending that time chatting and hanging out with my mom and friends. If they’ve got shopping to do I’ll go along, but I notice the “need” for clothes/products/etc. starting to creep up again. So I have to check myself. It can be difficult and I can get frustrated by not being able to buy the things I think I want. I really do best staying out of the stores!

      I am fascinated by this idea of Defending the Caveman and the relationship to shopping. It makes so much sense!

  • This is crazy! 15 trips for shoes? I wish. I cant remember the last time I got to purchase new shoes for myself. Im saving up for a pair of Frye boots but thats it and I just gave away 6 pairs of black heels…
    Slowly and surely I become Minimalist. I just cant figure out what to do with clothes that im attached to.
    Only shopping I do is to the grocery store these days. Life with two children and a man gets expensive.

    • I bought Frye boots last winter. They were a great investment. I can take long walks in them and they are fantastic quality.
      Clothes you are attached to: box them up if you aren’t wearing them and put them away for six months. You might find them easier to let go of after that. Good luck!

  • I hate to think of all the time and money I’ve spent shopping, and how much money we could have saved. Yesterday we got rid of another car load of stuff – clothes that we donated to a church, and a lot of decorative items to a consignment shop. (These days I’m un-decorating.) We brought home a check for $117 for things that I already sold at the consignment shop. We also sold our high school class rings to a jeweler and made $230. I guess you could call this un-shopping!

  • 301 shopping trips in a year!? Ugh. That depresses me. I am not a shopper, but I do undertake all of the shopping for the family so that statistic might actually be accurate for me. Grocery shopping, household goods, and yes all of the clothes, etc for EVERYONE in this house falls to me. So, while I don’t want or like shopping, I’m out there with all of the other women.

    • I am the shopper too. The only thing my husband buys is electronics. I do online grocery shopping but our fridge is so small that I have to hit visit a store later in the week to make it until the next order.

      It’s funny, one of our favourite walks here in Douglas is to walk down Strand street, a pedestrian only shopping street, on Saturdays. Sometimes we are visiting a shop but mostly we like that it is ‘island busy’ and gives us a city feel.

  • The vast majority of the shopping I do is for food, and I can’t see cutting that out. But I definitely take far less than 301 shopping trips in a year. I just kind of don’t enjoy the experience, especially with kids in tow, so I avoid it as much as possible.

    • I’m with you on not enjoying the experience. Particularly with kids in town. I used to claim I had “mall apathy” when I was out with friends or my sisters shopping and got bored.

      They need online grocery shopping to come to the lower mainland. I love it. The only grocery shopping I look forward to now is the once a month Farmer’s Market here. It’s nothing like what you would find in Vancouver, maybe five tables, but I’m always excited to see what vegetables will be available and what the local butcher has that day.

  • I love shopping. I cannot lie! In the last 6 months, though, my perspective on shopping has changed–I don’t HAVE to come home with something. I’m much more selective, and want something to be perfect before I buy. I’m more in the mindset to save for something I really want that would be higher quality and last longer. I don’t hit up the mall though, I probably make it there once or twice a year. Usually only if we are looking for something in particular, like shoes. I like to go shopping to browse for thrifty finds-I love consignment, antique and Goodwill stores. Even if I don’t find something I’m looking for, I get a kick out of seeing some of the things people have donated or are trying to sell. My son does like to go shopping with me, for him and I, its just time out of the house to spend together in an “adventure” sort of way. Even more so in the winter months, when its very easy to get cabin fever in our apartment.

    • Kari, I can not shop at resale/consignment shops. Because of the prices I buy too much, and “good” things that I never knew we always “needed”. I end up donating all but one or two things, again. Which is just wasteful. I could have bought the one item full price at a store. Good for you for having the will power to go through the resale stores and get what you need.

  • Where to start on this one?…let’s start here…
    “Shopping ‘fever’ starts young” – if that’s the case then I am one relieved Mommy. My daughter (nearly 7) will not shop, she hates it even if it’s for her. If she needs something (see ‘need’) I have to go and get it and bring a selection back for her to try at home, then return what is not required. Okay so that is a bit annoying but in the back of my mind I’m thinking ‘that’s my girl’.
    I don’t recreational shop – I have tried in the past but I start to panic, and have to abort the trip. It’s a pretty unpleasant experience.

  • Those stats are crazy. I am working hard to not spend money outside of necessities and it definitely can be hard when everything around you is telling you to buy, buy, buy. I love shopping but thankfully I just check out things more than I buy, but can always improve! Great post, thanks for the info!

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