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Shopping as a Sport

Eberson, S. (14 November, 2006) “Shopping as a Sport,” Scripps Howard /The Gloucester

Daily Times.

Haynes, M. (14 November, 2006) “Shopping Research Ferrets Out Customer Clues,” Scripps Howard /The Gloucester

Daily Times.





Shopping isn’t about satisfying a simple want or need, it’s about relishing the drama and excitement of the shopping experience. In this article, Eberson describes the outlook that writers such as Suzy Gershman have celebrated and popularized. In her “Born to Shop” travel guides, Gershman takes readers through places such as London, Paris, and Hong Kong – all for the thrill of shopping.


Such a fascination with, and apparent promotion of, consumer behavior is likewise the topic of Pam Danziger’s forthcoming book, Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Shopping Experience. According to Danziger, the reasons for this shopping-craze are as diverse as are personalities. For shoppers earning more than $50,000 a year, there are five categories of shopping-euphoria. The “therapeutic shopper,” for example, likes to browse at least as much as she likes to buy. But what unites the shoppers is the allure of the total experience. And retailers are catching on to this.


Says Danziger, “This shift toward the shopping experience marks the biggest change to occur in the retailing landscape over the past century.” Even more modest-income shoppers savor the basic experience of tracking merchandise trends, and/or bonding with friends in the mall. “Shopping for its own sake has not rainouts,” says Eberson. And multi-tasking personalities are especially drawn to the sport. Even typical family nights-out have taken to including routine visits to Target and Starbucks.


Consider these larger factors associated with today’s shoppers:


·        American shoppers are more goal-oriented than their counterparts worldwide.


·        Shoppers typically turn right when they enter a store.


·        70 percent of shoppers are women.


·        86 percent of women check price tags; 72 percent of men do


·        “Neuromarketing” strategies appeal to subconscious brain responses in shoppers.


·        68 percent of Americans shop when they don’t really need anything.


·        41 percent of women and 28 percent of men say they like to spend time browsing.


As a sign of the merchandizing times, there is even a company, Envirosell, which specializes in examining consumer shopping behavior through video-recording and interviews, then packaging the findings for retail clients.


Questions for Reflection and Discussion:


1.      Do you view shopping as a source of recreational entertainment?


2.      What does this fascination with the shopping experience tell us about ourselves as a culture?


3.      Does it bother you that stores hire consultants to help improve their shopping environment in sometimes subtle ways?


4.      What is it about shopping that appeals to teenagers today?





It is perhaps unsurprising that consumerism has become a form of entertainment. What is surprising is the number of shoppers who embrace this enthusiastically. Our apparent need to put ourselves in purchasing environments indicates that we have assimilated ourselves to a culture of consumer identity and the thrill of the ‘new.’ 


Christopher S. Yates cCYS