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Last-minute mall rush: 'Men shop like we're hunting'

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 19, 2010 at 6:19 a.m.

Travis Buehring, 16, of Port Lavaca, flips through a Kay Jewelers catalog in hopes of finding the perfect Christmas gift for his girlfriend at Victoria Mall on Sunday. The tired, last minute shopper said he wasn't sure what kind of present he was looking for but would know it when he saw it.

With Christmas only five days away, last-minute shoppers crowded the Victoria Mall this weekend to complete final holiday purchases.

Many of these last-minute shoppers were men, and it appears they were right on schedule.

In 2009, The National Retail Federation found that 21.4 percent of men had yet to begin Christmas shopping by Dec. 9, compared with 17 percent of women. This year, the federation released a similar study claiming 32 percent of men begin their holiday shopping before Halloween, and spend an average of $20 more per purchase. Women, however, were 42 percent more likely to begin their Christmas shopping before Halloween, and spend an average of about $20 less per gift.

One last-minute shopper at the mall Sunday afternoon was Patrick Johnson, a family practice physician from Louise.

"This is the first real day I've been out shopping," Johnson said. "I've picked up a few things here and there, but I needed to get some things for my wife."

When asked if he intended to spend the day enjoying his holiday shopping excursion, he said he already knew what he wanted to purchase and planned to quickly "knock it out."

"Men shop like we're hunting. There's no reason to do it any earlier than you need to. It's very goal-oriented with men," Johnson said.

Arriving at the mall with a shopping itinerary, Johnson said, "I need a case for a Kindle, a couple of candles, a few gift cards and a gift certificate for a nail and pedicure."

Another last-minute shopper at the Victoria Mall was Tim Mendoza, of Port Lavaca, who was perusing a jewelry catalogue above an enclosed casing of diamond rings at Kay Jewelers.

"Today is my first day of shopping, and I needed to get something for my wife," Mendoza said, laughing.

While searching for a diamond necklace for his wife, Jolena, Mendoza said he intended to finish his Christmas shopping in one day, so he doesn't have to return later in the week.

"I have too many people to shop for, but I'm going to try to get everything done today," he said.

Walking with armfuls of shopping bags, Ruben Juarez, 16, said he, too, was guilty of last-minute shopping.

"I do this every year, try to get it all done in one day," Juarez said.

In less than 30 minutes at the mall, Juarez managed to purchase four gifts from Champs, Aeropostale, and Earthbound Trading Co.

Even Patti Wied, a longtime volunteer at the St. Joseph High School gift-wrapping table, said as the final days of Christmas approach, the majority of their customers will be men.

"We have a steady stream of men these last few days," Wied said. "The majority of our fundraising dollars always come the last week before Christmas from male shoppers."

The last-minute shopping habits of men may be explained in a 2009 University of Michigan study by Daniel Kruger and Dreyson Byker, which claims the differences in male and female shopping may stem from evolution. Men shop like hunters, women shop like gatherers.

"Whereas gatherers are likely to visit multiple patches, hunters could encounter a pack of prey species, or a smaller number of individuals from larger species that would provide adequate meat for the group ... Thus, even though the prey is now an expensive home theater system, men are still applying the skills that were developed to obtain meat in a hunter-gatherer environment," Kruger and Byker said in their research.

But for Juarez, holiday shopping habits are just part of being a man.

"It's just how we are. I don't know, we don't be here any longer than we need to," Juarez said.



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