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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
Primeval shopping instincts revealed
An hour and 12 minutes of shopping can cause arguments
The shopping habits of men and women will always be incompatible, new research concludes.

Both sexes display "primeval instincts" in the High Street, with men going in for the "kill".

Seven in 10 men are likely to fit the traditional "hunter" profile, while eight in 10 women are more like "gatherers".

The report suggests men and women should spend a maximum shopping time of one hour and 12 minutes together; otherwise an argument will usually break out.

The solution

After this point, arguments are most likely to occur because the men no longer want to be there.

Women, however, want to shop for a further 28 minutes on average.

The research advises both to split up and shop alone after the maximum time.

The "gatherer" should continue shopping without the "hunter".

This incompatibility according to the research is down to "inherent behavioural and attitudinal differences".

Smash and grab

Most male shoppers want to go in for the "kill", because they go with the aim of buying specific items and tend to be more decisive.

Whereas women are generally categorised at "gatherers" who treat bargain hunting as a "leisure pursuit" in itself.

As a result of these differences in our genetic make-up, not only are High Street arguments inevitable, but women are also proven to be better shoppers than men, says the research.

Dr Tim Denison of Exeter University, who conducted the study for Barclaycard, said: "Contrasting styles of bargain shopping demonstrate that for many couples a shopping trip is a recipe for disaster - men and women apply different levels of significance to the core bargain components.

"Men tend to adopt a more 'smash and grab' approach to the High Street compared to women who display more sophisticated shopping behaviour.  

"This may work in getting the item required, but will almost certainly mean they pay more than their female counterparts."

Is this cultural stereotyping, or is there any truth in this research? Do you enjoy shopping with your partner? Send in your comments, using the postform on the top right-hand side of this story.

Your comments:

When shopping with a boyfriend, I tend to find that spending 45 mins shopping, followed by a 15 min coffee break, regularly repeated, means he will spend a lot longer shopping before getting irritated.
Sophie, England

I'll shop all day provided I'm fed...perhaps that quells the desire to "hunt"
Rob, UK

I've noticed this, and it kind of goes against what one is taught to believe in our politically correct "everyone's the same" world. Have you noticed, for example, that women tend to be surprised when asked for money at the checkout, fumbling around in bags and purses for ages, whereas men have the exact money in the hands of the cashier before they'd even had a chance to ask for it!!!
Kevin Motte, uk

Sorry boys! I'm afraid I have to knock your theory. I loathe shopping, "grazing" around stores is a pain. I prefer to go in, get what I need, and get out again. And Kevin, I'm afraid I calculate in my head how much it will cost, and know exactly what I need to pay.
Deborah Parr, England

I don't see how the differences identified make women "better" or "more sophisticated" at shopping. Is it better to go shopping and spend money on things that you never planned to buy, just because it looks a good deal? Even if its half price, if you never really needed it then its a waste of money. And if you cost your time, or you just don't like spending your leisure time at the shops, then a more 'decisive' smash and grab approach makes perfect sense.
Rusty, uk

This also explains why I regularly come home to a wall of toilet rolls or some other similarly 'gathered' product that was "an offer too good to miss"...
Noel, Finland

My girlfriend fits all the character traits mentioned above. However she ends up taking half the stuff back the next day because after having slept on it she's changed her mind, and it doesn't fit/suit her. Surely this approach can't really be thought of as 'better' shopping.
Walter, UK

I'll shop all day provided I'm fed, usually within the first half an hour of getting to shops - perhaps that quells the desire to "hunt".
Rob, UK

It is wrong to conclude that women are better at shopping because they pay less CASH for an item than a man might, because the evidence suggests that a man spends less TIME on the item. Given the opportunity cost associated with time spent shopping the men may be getting better value after all.
Andy, England

Isn't it something of a shame that shopping has become such a leisure pursuit anyway? Buying loads of stuff we don't need when people in other parts of the world go hungry? I wonder if it's because there are so few places that women can spend time alone and feel safe now?
Suse, Wales

Why do women seem to buy so many things that are known to them as 'tops'?
Oliver, UK
Nothing new here. We always split up, re-group to consider any joint decisions and then split up again if needed.
Simon, England

I have to say that the research seems spot on - even down to the average "critical mass" time! However, it's limited to high street shopping. I can spend hours on the Net looking round for the best deal, whereas my wife gets bored after about ten minutes. The absolute opposite is true when we go out shopping together.
Jake Perks, UK

Sorry, but I am a man, and I love shopping and can spend hours just grazing. My wife, on the other hand, hates it completely and would rather sit it out with a coffee than actually participate
Andrew Skinner, uk

My wife can shop for a further two days solid, not a paltry 28 minutes
Mike Hastings, UK

Why do women seem to buy so many things that are known to them as 'tops'. What is a 'top'? Men have jumpers, shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts etc. Women have 'tops', and lots of them. They can spend all day looking for 'Tops'. Also women see something reduced from £20 to £10 as an opportunity to buy 2 of that item (usually they are 'tops'), which they never wear. Amazing.
Oliver, England

It seems that there is a new piece of research out every day highlighting how men are incompatible with modern living. And now I learn we don't know how to shop - great.
Barry, UK

This at least holds with all my personal experiences. Personally I've always felt that shops would make a wise business move in providing seats for men, perhaps with a little TV set, kind of like a crèche...
Stuart, UK ex-pat

The conclusions don't surprise me but I'm amazed they had to do research to discover this basic fact.
Chris, UK

I have to say all the women I know always have debit cards primed and ready to swipe...
Vic, UK

This is so true. My husband insists on coming shopping with me, but constantly moans that I take too long.
Julie, UK

Absolutely bang on. After an hour I become restless, my wife picks up my attitude change and then its all downhill.
Phil Whelan, UK
Why do you think they used to show "Baywatch" on the TV on Saturday afternoon ???
Martin, England

I'm sorry to mess up your findings, but as I woman I can honestly say the only shopping I really enjoy is online - why bother with a dirty, crowded high street shop when you can browse to your heart's content on screen, and then get it delivered to your door?
Kaye, UK

Complete rubbish. I am famed throughout the land as a demon bargain hunter. I will spend hours or days seeking out that extra pound off. I shop a lot on the web now since the best deals are to be found here. I have just booked a two week holiday last minute deal which I have spent months looking for. I only paid 250 pounds for two people for two weeks. Chicken feed. The hire car cost more. That said my wife is no slouch either. She has an amazing ability to find a bargain only to find when she gets to the till, there is even more money off. Sixth sense I reckon. Together we are a retailer's worst nightmare!
Roger, UK

I have never heard such rubbish in my entire life. This report is totally untrue. I will have you know that my wife can shop for a further two days solid, not a paltry 28 minutes...
Mike Hastings, UK

I fully agree with this report. I can't shop with my husband for more than an hour fifteen minutes (max) and we usually end up arguing. Therefore, I prefer shopping on my own now.
Jyoti Priyadarshi, UK

I tend to take a book, and after about 20mins of following the girl friend round the shops I find a bench near the shop she enters and sit down and read. She doesn't mind as I'm nearby if she wants me, and as soon as she has found that bargain she comes out to show me with a big grin on her face. Oh and at the end of every shopping trip together we go for a drink or meal.
Ben Gaunt, UK

Absolutely bang on. After an hour I become restless, my wife picks up my attitude change and then its all downhill. Also, never shop on an empty stomach.
Phil Whelan, uk

My boyfriend and I went to Singapore once, where he spent 9 hours shopping with a friend. So it's not just women that have this "skill".
James, England

Women approach shopping as a stress reliever whereas men treat shopping as a stress creator.
Helen, UK

My wife is definitely a better shopper than me. She often does the bargain hunting first, either at the shops on the internet then comes with me to buy the item. And yes, I do get bored after about an hour. I just can't see the point of shopping without a purpose.....
Chris Hurst, UK

I once went to a great shop in London which had a sort of 'boyfriend zone'. It had comfortable chairs, newspapers and a playstation. After my rapid 10 minutes of shopping my girlfriend simply dumped me there and went off to complete her own shopping. I happily sat there for hours; playing games and doing nothing. She got to enjoy her shopping, gather her bargains, be as wildly indecisive as she could ever dream and still have someone to help her carry all her booty home. They should have these in EVERY shop; best shopping experience of our lives.
Dan, UK

Maybe women spend longer shopping than men because they have far more to choose from! There seems to be more on offer to women
Philip Smith, Lancs England

The stereotype describes the difference between my wife and myself with appalling accuracy. I "scout" the kill, deciding in advance exactly what beast I want to catch and where it will be easiest to find (and least dangerous to kill). My wife is happy as long as the fur is a colour she likes. Conversely, she'll wander through the woods for hours, sampling different nuts and berries and as yet unidentified fruits, judging their suitability with criteria that totally elude my understanding -- they all taste pretty much the same to me.
Carl, UK

Does this research apply to shopping on the Internet? I use a search engine, select what I want then reach for the credit card (I.e. using the Internet to save time.) My wife can spend a whole evening viewing lots of shopping sites and comparing prices.
Gordon, England

Women approach shopping as a stress reliever whereas men treat shopping as a stress creator.
Helen, London, UK

Rusty has it spot on. Women probably do pay slightly less per item - but this saving is somewhat outweighed by the 300 non-essential, purposeless pieces of absolute rubbish they habitually turn up with when they come home grinning from ear to ear and having spent your hard earned cash.
Gavin, Switzerland (Welsh)

I agree with Deborah. I also hate shopping and would be in and out in a flash with just what we need but my husband insists on having a good look round for any bargains. Too make it worse he insists on pushing the trolley and slides about on it with his feet off the floor, but as he is only 52 I suppose he has some growing up still to do. He does carry all his booty home though
Heather, England

Totally true! My fiancé behaves like a child after the first hour of trying to please me with smiles, appreciative nods and comments about items that I have selected. After that crucial hour, his mood rapidly declines.
Lorraine Burton, England

Shopping is a sad activity. Get a life rather than trying to buy one!
Nick, UK

I fully agree with your article on shopping. What really gets me is how my ex-wife used to go shopping for hours, and would always come home with black trousers. She had about 20 pairs !! Her friends were the same too. I started asking girls whether they had many pairs of black trousers. They had lots !! Most black trousers look the same, and blokes are too polite to say that. Less of the black trousers girls. It's such a bore and is the cause of most of my shopping arguments.
Brian, Ireland

I hate being told that as a woman I like shopping. There is so much emphasis now on women as consumers. The phrase 'Retail Therapy' is just a marketing technique that attempts to tell women that is they spend money they will feel better. I hate shopping!
Louise, UK

Shopping centre designers should design stores in a circular pattern around a TV lounge/bar with women able to change and present themselves to the bored male for the obligatory "I like it if you like it dear!". The women could then spend all day "gathering". Proverb: A man will pay twice the price for something he really needs where as women will pay half price for something she doesn't need.
matt, uk

Why is it that young women have the biggest credit/store card debts then?
Stephen, UK

That may well be true about men when it comes to clothes/food shopping but put them in a record or electronic/gadget shop and it's a different story!
Karen, England

Of course it takes longer for her to shop - I give her the list of things to get me.
Justin, England

Shopping makes me feel a bit queasy. Everything goes grey and starts to spin.
Raymond Jericho, UK

Why do we need to know this? Can't money be spent on a cure for Aids instead of research telling us that women are marginally better at this, men are slightly better doing that. What a waste of time!
David, England

Spot on but rather self evident research. Personally I can't understand why anyone would rather shop than do something constructive. Most stuff in the shops provides a short term "high". In fact I'd go as far to say that shopping is a sad activity. Get a life rather than trying to buy one!
Nick , UK

So what if this research is true? I know plenty of women and men who go from one financial disaster to the next because they consistently spend more than they earn. Being a better "shopper" alone won't save you from financial ruin if you're fundamentally irresponsible with managing your money .
Gary, Australia

Why is it that young women have the biggest credit/store card debts then?
Stephen, UK

I occasionally go shopping with my g/f across the border from Hong Kong in Shenzhen, China. Integral to many shopping malls there is somewhere you can get your feet massaged/pedicured and a nice guy in a bow tie offers me a beer at the same time. Does this count as hunting or gathering?
Ed, Hong Kong

ONE HOUR AND 12 MINUTES? I don't believe any couple are capable of spending this amount of time shopping together without major argument! My wife and I (happily married for 40 years)always go our own way to look at different shops and then regroup over a drink to compare notes. Only then do we think of looking at researched items together.
Peter Castle, UK

My husband and I have evolved a way of shopping which suits both of us, involving visiting mutually interesting shops first, then as I go in to a shop I want to (usually clothes!), he goes to one he wants to (usually electrical/computer items), then by the time he's done, he comes to find me, at which point I have narrowed down my choice of purchases to serious considerations for him to comment on. A coffee break and regular food stops in between all this and we're both happy! But on the whole, we at least fit the stereotype you offer here - I prefer wandering and 'grazing' as someone put it while my husband is definitely the hunter in this scenario.
Yvonne Powell-Wainwright, UK

I am amazed that anyone spent good money on research to discover this. Presumably the research was commissioned by a woman and the researchers were offering 20% off?
Adam, UK

1 hour 12 mins? That's 1 hour and 8 mins more than my partner can manage!
Sam Maddin, UK

Genetic, eh? Nothing to do with the fact that women are still judged by corporations to hold the purse strings and are therefore targeted by advertisers. Maybe if women weren't trained into consumerism from an early age things would be different. As things are going, though, the want-molding forces of capitalism are now being focused on men too. We have a future to look forward to where everyone enjoys shopping as much as the next person. That is: a lot, but briefly. And everyone is left wondering why they're not happy even though they consume, consume, consume.
kadie, uk

In my opinion the research confirms that men are the better shoppers, not women. A "good shopper" will come out with what they went in for.
SM, Switzerland

I don't see why men complain about being dragged from shop to shop by their female companion, mostly your in and out of female shops full of good looking females and you see your female companion at her happiest, so why complain?
Antony Fusco, UK

Louise, UK (who hates shopping) - will you marry me?
Debt-ridden husband, Midlands, England

Last time I checked, I was still a guy and I simply love to shop. I can shop 'till I drop. Give me a day, two days or a week free and I'll shop the time away. Maybe it's a gay thing. :-)
David Reynvoet, Belgium

I hate shopping with my girlfriend, it is most annoying experience ever. she always wants my "opinion" but all I care about is to get it done and be away from the crowd.
Anonymous, UK

Also holds true on the Internet. As web designers know well, shopping sites for men need to have all products "3clicks or less" away from the front page. Women's shopping sites will have great browsing sections where you can spend hours.
Paolo, UK

I don't think it's a question of genetics more then it is a question of social behavioral interests. If you've ever taken your girlfriend to a stereo shop, auto show, electronics convention, monster truck rally, Indy race, NBA gift shop, Apple store or Air and Space Museum, you'll find the same 'primeval instincts' are reversed. I've seen men caress Italian cars for hours while there women-folk moan about the unbelievable lines to the washrooms at the Javits Center. Ring the right bell and we'll all line up for a bite.
Steve, USA

My girlfriend loves to aimlessly wander round the largest supermarket she can find on a Saturday afternoon for hours. The same activity for me is a prelude to borderline psychotic behaviour.
Tony, UK

Great enjoyable reading! Thank you!
Alice Reid, Australia

I wouldn't like my husband to tag along when I am shopping at the clothes or cosmetic department because I prefer to take my time and try out as many clothes as I want. We usually split up and go to our respective shops (for him it is usually DIY store or book shop) and when we decide to regroup we will call each other on our cell phones! It is fun when both parties enjoyed their shopping though done separately. Man and woman are different and there is nothing wrong with being different.
Vivian , Malaysia

Although all of this is probably true, I must say that the British female "gatherer" is a complete amateur compared with the typical Korean girl. Do these girls know how to shop!
Derek Stock, South Korea

This is nonsense: my wife hates shopping, and I can't resist browsing through sales. This outmoded 'caveman' stereotype exists because more women do the household shopping - but that is changing.
Scott, Japan

I cannot believe the average man can tolerate over an hour of shopping with his partner. My limit is about 15 minutes!
Ian Weekes, Czech Repulic

I say it depends on what you are shopping for. My Husband always heads for the CD and DVD sections and spends hours picking over each little box. I can't stand to watch or participate in this sort of thing. I on the other hand can spend hours in the hardware or housewares section where items actually look different from one another. I have taught him to bargain shop and he does look for deals now.
Kalan , USA

Whilst the report might be correct in its assessment of shopping habits I do think it is wrong to say that this is down to genetic make up. People have grown up for years having to fit in with a particular stereotype - women like shopping, men don't. How to break down these out of date stereotypes would be a more relevant study.
Philip, UK

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