Why women shop

An Outdoor View

(Author’s note: This column first appeared in the Clarion on April 4, 2008. Nothing has changed. LP)



Slowly but surely, I’m figuring out women. For example, I recently deduced why they spend so much time shopping.

This is no casual observation. I’ve been scratching my head about it for years. Maybe you’ve noticed, women can spend entire days walking around a mall. They go at shopping with at least as much enthusiasm as men in pursuit of king salmon.

The way I figure it, what motivates women to shop has little to do with advertising or materialism. They shop because they’re driven by an atavistic instinct to gather.

Women shop differently now than when grandma was a girl. Modern women typically control the family finances, and no small number of them out-earn their husbands. A high percentage of households are now headed by women. According to a recent study, women spend $4 trillion annually — about 83% of U.S. consumer spending. Shrewd by nature, they’ve quickly adapted to this empowerment, and the proof is at the malls.

I’ve noticed that some women shop mainly for the social aspects, the getting together to shop and have lunch with friends, the “girls’ day out.” In this, I see a marked similarity to guys going fishing and hunting, much of which is about getting guy-time with buddies.

Female-shopper types range from Casual Browser to Aggressive Predator, but all are driven by the same ancient urges. While her ancestors spent days roaming the veldt in search of roots, berries, bird eggs and insect larvae, Modern Woman spends her days looking through malls for an aromatherapy diffuser and a dress off the discount rack. There’s nothing like a day afield to give a woman feelings of worth and fulfillment.

It’s said that men buy, women shop. Men just want to get in, buy that power tool and get out. Women want to touch, smell, browse, giggle, haggle and dawdle and then see if they can find the item in another store at a lower price. This drives men crazy, which I figure is women’s main mission on Earth, but that will have to wait for another column.

My purpose here was simply to clear away the clouds around the shopping thing. I figured it would help men readers to know that the reason women spend so much time shopping is because they are compelled to shop by forces beyond their control.

Not that shopping is a bad thing. Imagine the competition on the water if women spent as much time fishing as they do shopping.


Les Palmer can be reached at les.palmer@rocketmail.com.


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Author’s note: The Clarion first published this column on Aug. 11, 2006. It has been edited it for brevity. — LP

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