centre:mk survey finds the re-invention of the Male Christmas Shopper

Modern men take pride in being skilled Christmas shoppers – compared to their parents, who believed present buying was a ‘woman’s job’.

A recent poll commissioned by the centre:mk shopping centre to compare shopping habits over its 40 years of operation found major changes in how male shoppers approach buying Christmas presents.

The poll found back in the 1970s, Christmas shopping was largely interpreted as a female job with 73% of husbands leaving the task of Christmas shopping to their wives. But generations later, it seems that men’s attitudes towards Christmas shopping have really moved on.

The study found 56% of respondents (2,000 UK men 18+) spending more time and putting more effort into Christmas shopping today compared to previous generations.

This ‘male-volution’ is to the benefit of partners in more ways than one–over half of men say they spend the most time shopping for their other half for Christmas over anyone else. More than two fifths also spend the most money on their significant other, splurging an average of £137.

More than a third of men think this change has been affected by the rise of female financial independence and prosperity, due to the rise of women in the workplace over the last 40 years.

The centre:mk collaborated with men’s fashion expert and author Josh Sims, on an article exploring this change in the male attitude to Christmas shopping and why this may have happened.

Josh Sims said, “Four decades ago, attitudes to male gifting were very different to today. Women were still typically considered home-makers rather than professionals – their Christmas gift was an indicator of the man’s status as the breadwinner.

“Employment for women over the second half of the 1980s then rose at the fastest rate than at any time in the last 40 years, which changed things. The increased financial independence among women means their partners are free to buy what they want for themselves regardless.”

Perfume and jewellery were revealed as the most popular modern-day items gifted from men to their partner. In this way, gift-giving in 2019 aligns with 1970s trends, where perfume and jewellery were also popular.

Interestingly, there was more disparity between the percentage of women receiving domestic items as Christmas gifts. Between 1971 and 1989, one in every three items gifted to women from their partners fell into this category, with prime examples being ironing boards, washing machines and kitchen gadgets.

In 2019, however, such items make up only 12 per cent of favoured women’s presents, meaning less women should expect to unwrap an ironing board on Christmas Daythis year.

35 per cent of men say they want to impress their partner more than men did in previous generations, hence the survey also revealed that over a third of men spend more on Christmas gifts now than over the years.

Of course there will always be those few grand gesturers around too with some men planning on buying their partners a new car or a holiday abroad. 8% of men class themselves as a ‘Big Spender’ -impressing their loved one with expensive presents.

62 per cent of men have pure confidence in themselves, believing they are good at Christmas shopping, with only 21 per cent of their gifts being returned. Whether women would view this in the same way is another story!

74 per cent of men enjoy Christmas shopping with over a quarter feeling excited about the prospect of gift buying, while a further 18 per cent said that shopping for their loved ones made them feel ‘content’.

With men saying that their gifts are rarely returned, women are clearly enjoying the Christmas presents they receive. Great for the women of today, 57 per cent of men still put the same amount of time and effort into Christmas shopping for their partner as when they first met.

The few that have stopped putting in the effort or stopped buying presents altogether have done so because they agreed to save money and buy less (42 per cent) or because they spend more time and effort on their children/grandchildren (30 per cent).

The survey also revealed that the top male persona is ‘The Listener’. Over a third of men feel organised, take the hints and know exactly what to buy. Only 16 per cent of men class themselves as a ‘Last Minute Shopper’, turning the ‘man-dash’ on its head.

51 per cent of men say they research their gifts online before shopping in store – a new style of shopping compared to 40 years ago. Men take time to research what they are going to buy, reinforcing ‘The Listener’ persona.

Kim Priest, Head of Marketing at centre:mk continued,“We are seeing a move away from the ‘Last Minute Shoppers’-men who traditionally leave it to the last minute then run into the centre on Christmas Eve. There will always be some man-dashers but it’s fantastic to see that men’s attitudes today have shifted with over a third of men referring to themselves as ‘The Listener’ -they feel organised, take the hints and know exactly what to buy.

“How times have changed!”

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