NEW YORK (MainStreet) – While some have objected to the characterization of the recession as a “mancession,” there’s no denying that job losses during the recession have disproportionately impacted men. Now there’s evidence that this phenomenon has begun to influence gender roles on a wider scale.
A recent Nielsen survey found that the percentage of shopping trips taken by men increased appreciably during the past seven years, a shift that the research organizaion attributes to the rising number of unemployed men.
That seems to make sense: A greater percentage of men (8.8%) than women (7.9%) are now unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By comparison, historical BLS data show that in 2004, those percentages were a lot closer, at 5.6% for men and 5.4% for women. The increased proportion of men on the unemployment rolls means that they’re more likely than ever to take “a more active role in household duties,” according to Nielsen.
That’s not to say that we’re seeing real gender equity when it comes to running errands – Nielsen found that women still do most of the shopping trips, with the exception of runs to the gas station or convenience store. But men are starting to catch up: As of 2004, men made 25% of shopping trips to the dollar store, but as of the most recent survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2010, that number has risen to 28%. Warehouse clubs like Costco have also become more popular with men, who now make 40% of such shopping trips (compared with 37% in 2004).
While a significant ‘shopping gap’ still exists between men and women, that gap is a lot smaller when it comes to online shopping: Nielsen found that 72% of women and 68% of men have shopped online in the last 30 days.
Of course, some of the online shopping categories break down along expected gender lines – men are more likely to buy computer hardware while women are more likely to buy clothes and shoes.
Still, it seems that men who avoid shopping are happy to make purchases from the couch, which is great news for any online retailer.