Holiday Shopping Showdown: Men vs. Women

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When it comes to gift buying, I tend to stay with gift cards and anything someone explicitly tells me they want.  I also tend to wait until the last minute to even start thinking about what I’ll get anyone.  I thought it’d be interesting to see whether this was something common to most guys and decided to use Compete’s demographic data to find out.  I looked at unique shoppers and unique converters (purchasers) to five top retailers in three categories: apparel (Gap, J.C. Penney, Kohls, Macy’s, and LL Bean), toys (Barbie, Disney Store, Lego, Mattel, and Toys’r’us), and electronics (Apple, Best Buy, Dell, Newegg, and RadioShack).

The share of female shoppers to apparel retailers is nothing surprising.  In 2010, women made up a higher share of unique visitors to these sites during the holiday season, and this continued fairly steadily throughout November and December.  The gap is increased when we look at who’s actually making purchases, and once again remained pretty constant throughout the season.  These trends appear again when looking at the data available so far in the 2011 holiday season.  While it may be no big surprise that women are doing a greater share of the shopping on apparel retailer sites during the holiday season, looking at the other categories may not be so predictable.

For toys, we see men and women with fairly constant shares for unique visitors to the top five sites (women slightly edging out men) in both 2010 and 2011.   While visitors to the retailers may show that women only slightly beat out men for holiday toy shopping, looking at whose making purchases paints women as the clear winner, especially early in the season.  While women claim a higher share of purchasers for the entire holiday season, men do make jumps in their share.  During both 2010 and 2011, we see the share of male purchasers reach the highest point around Black Friday.  So men might not be early bird toy shoppers, but they do appreciate getting some good deals.

Unlike the other two categories, electronics retailers see more male shoppers during the holiday season in both 2010 and 2011.  Men hold a consistently higher share of the unique visitors to electronics retailers throughout the holiday.  However, when looking at actual purchasers, we see a slightly different story.  In 2010, women take a greater share of converters in early November, to be overtaken by male shoppers as the month goes on.  Once Black Friday hits and the shopping season is in full swing, however, women again make up a larger share of converters and do so for the rest of the season.  So far in 2011, we have not seen the 2010 trend repeat.  Male shoppers have made up a greater share of unique converters from the start of November and have yet to be beaten by female shoppers.  While we do see the shares for each converging near the end of November, we can’t yet tell if men will hold onto being the top converters on electronic retailers.

When it comes to holiday shopping, it appears that men and women have very different habits.  Women take a clear lead over men when it comes to apparel shopping, and, for the most part, toy shopping as well.  Only in electronics do we see men edge female shoppers out.  However, even this category is a close race, with women overtaking men in 2010 as top electronics shoppers.  We haven’t seen women take the lead so far in 2011, but there are still plenty of shopping days left.  In the meantime, if you want clothes or toys, your best bet is to ask mom before dad.