All over the world men are proving their is truth in the rumour that we shop late for Christmas. So why is that?
I’m not a fan of gender stereotypes but there does seem to be some universal truth in the idea that just like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Jingle All The Way, men are more likely to leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute.
This year, a survey by the Australian National Retailers Association found that men are two and a half times more likely than women to do their shopping in the last few days before Christmas.
In the UK, one major department store claims they know when men start Christmas shopping each year because sales of the country’s best-selling festive perfume, Chanel No. 5, start rising. According to Ruth Attridge of the retailer Debenhams:
“It’s like a starting pistol going off. As soon as we see sales of Chanel No. 5 rising, we know that men have begun the race to get their Christmas shopping done. Men have a totally different way of shopping. They just want to get into store, pick up the items they want as quickly as possible – and leave”.
Over in Canada, retail analyst David Gray confirms that men in North America are also more likely to start Christmas shopping later. He told CBC news in British Columbia that “guys like me who maybe have put it off are not big fans of the shopping experience.”
And in the U.S.A. too, even though men and women may be just as likely to be out shopping on Christmas Eve, men are more likely to be hitting the shops for the first time. According to Erik Gordon, director of the Center for Retailing Education and Research at the University of Florida, who conducted a survey on Christmas shopping habits:
“Men are going to be just starting shopping. They’re in a panic. What size does she wear? Does she like blue? A woman is there shopping for the 56th time still trying to find the solar-powered remote control her husband mentioned in his sleep six months ago.”
So, bearing in mind that as with all gender stereotypes, this won’t apply to all men or women—here’s a list of five possible reasons why men are more likely on average to start shopping for Christmas presents later than women
1. Men get less satisfaction out of gift buying
Research into gift buying has revealed that women on average are more likely to treasure the gifts they received for their meaningful or symbolic value. Women are also more likely to be satisfied with the gift they chose to buy for others. If men place less meaning and symbolism on the gifts they receive and gain less satisfaction from buying presents, then maybe it’s not surprising that we don’t all rush out to finish our Christmas shopping in November.
2. Men don’t want to buy the gifts that women want to receive
Surveys frequently reveal that men and women have different preferences in terms of the gifts they prefer to give and receive. This year, a survey by CreditDonkey.com found that while 54% of women want jewelry, only 30% of men want to give it. Meanwhile, more men (31%) want to give sporting goods, but only 19% of women want to receive them.
3. The thought of buying and receiving presents makes us anxious
In 2008, a survey by a British retailer revealed that men are more likely than women to feel anxious about both giving and receiving gifts. It isn’t unusual to procrastinate when the thought of doing something that makes you anxious so maybe the last minute shopping spree is just men’s way of managing our gift-related anxiety?
4. Gift buying isn’t men’s way of expressing love
According to Dr Gary Chapman, the author of The 5 Love Languages, there are five key ways that men and women express their love which are: quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service and receiving gifts. According to Dr Chapman’s book, our tendency is to show love in the “language” in which we prefer to receive love.
Chapman concedes that “it may be true that more men have Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation as their love language and more women have Quality Time and Gifts.” This may explain why some men aren’t as motivated to buy gifts, but according to Chapman, if you partner experiences and expresses love through receiving gifts then it’s a “love language” you’ll want to learn if you want to create a “healthy emotional climate” for your relationship.
5. Men love the challenge of a one-day hunt
According to CBC news in Canada, some men revel in the adrenalin rush of the last-minute gift-hunting expedition. As one Canadian man said: “I always want to think of the perfect thing, and it usually comes to me when there is time pressure.” Another male shopper on the other side of the world told the Herald Sun in Australia that there is just one rule that “blokes” need to follow when embarking on a one-day present hunt: “get here early and leave here early.”
Of course not all men will conform to the global gender stereotype of shopping late for Christmas—-and there will be some women who also leave it until the last minute. Whether you’re buying gifts right up until shops close on Christmas Eve or whether you finished wrapping your last present weeks ago, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
—Photo Credit: Flickr/Ben Sutherland