Who Are the Most Frugal U.K. Holiday Shoppers: Men or Women?

MPG Research Suggests Retailers Target More Free-Spending Males in Tough Economy

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Retailers need to target men if they want to encourage big spending this festive season, according to a study by Havas Group's MPG Media Contacts.

London's Oxford Street saw a $77 million boost in holiday sales this past weekend.
London's Oxford Street saw a $77 million boost in holiday sales this past weekend. Credit: Bloomberg

U.K. women are taking on the Scrooge role in these difficult times, with 49% planning to buy gifts for a smaller group of people this year. The recession is having an impact on spending for 77% of women, and 54% more are looking to discount voucher sites for gift ideas this year than last year.

Men, while not completely immune to the recession, are more likely to splurge in the run-up to Christmas. The economic climate is impacting the spending of 10% fewer men than women, and only 38% are considering buying presents from discount voucher sites. While Christmas shopping, price is important for 77% of men, compared to 85% of women.

Eva Powell, strategy director at MPG Media Contacts, said, "Men are less likely to be tightening their belts, which provides huge opportunities for retailers, who should renew their focus on men. They traditionally focus on women and housewives at this time of year, but men are far less likely to modify their spending behavior as a result of the recession."

Overall, one-third of Britons plan to spend less this Christmas than in previous years, although -- despite their penny-pinching -- women are still more enthusiastic than men about buying presents. Only 61% of men say they get a "good deal of joy out of the act of giving," compared to 78% of women.

Ms. Powell said, "Despite spending less this year, Christmas is no less meaningful. The amount of effort and consideration put in is high, supporting a generosity of spirit, if not of wallet. This leads us to the idea that there is opportunity for businesses to develop products and gifts that create more fulfilling experiences and support bond creation rather than over-consumption."

MPG asked 2,000 people about their attitude to Christmas and what they planned to do differently this year in an attempt to find out whether there is a new frugality around gifting and consumption this Christmas.

Christmas 2011 got off to a slow start for retailers but picked up last Saturday and Sunday when -- for the first time -- London shopping hubs Oxford Street and Regent Street were closed to traffic for the whole weekend. The move paid off, with shoppers spending $430 million -- a full $77 million more than on the same weekend last year. Fashion and technology were the most popular purchases, according to the New West End Company, which co-ordinated the weekend's events.

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