With Less Time On Their Hands, Women Shop Close To Home While Men Tend To Travel Farther, UB Study Shows

March 25, 1998

BOSTON -- Women won't travel as far as men will to do their shopping because they have less time available for the task, a study by a University at Buffalo geographer has found.

"It's well-known that in choosing a destination for shopping, travel time is the number-one factor," said Jean-Claude Thill, Ph.D., associate professor of geography and author of the study.

But, Thill said, what had never been studied is whether shoppers base these decisions on free choice or time constraints.

"My conclusion is that there is differentiation between choice and constraint, and it is most present when you compare genders," said Thill, who presented results of his research today (Saturday, March 28) at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers.

The study examined the shopping decisions of 700 men and women living in urban and suburban locations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

The results showed that on average, women will travel six miles to shop, while men will travel an average of 6.5 miles to shop, a small, but statistically significant difference, Thill said.

Women, he noted, tend to have less time available to shop because their "activity space" -- the territory an individual uses for daily activities -- is more crowded.

"Women have work and household activities to perform and a limited amount of time," he said. "That limits the geographical reach within which they will shop.

"Men, on the other hand, have more discretionary time," he said, "so when they decide to shop -- and they do shop less frequently than women -- they tend to travel longer distances."

The findings have implications for regional planning and, particularly, for developers of retail establishments, said Thill.

"Retailers want to attract customers from as far away as possible," he said. "But that perspective is based on the assumption that overcoming distance is limited to free choice. The retailer thinks 'If we can convince people to travel far by being an attractive place to shop, they will come.'"

This perspective, a sort of "build-it-and-they-will-come" model, completely misses the fact that customers, particularly female customers, are constrained in their shopping decisions, said Thill.

"It's the wrong model," he said. "If you have plenty of time, you're likely to base your decision on your like or dislike for a particular store. You'll choose a place you prefer to shop. But if you only have a half-hour as your constraint, then a 20-mile trip isn't feasible."

University at Buffalo

Related Decisions Articles from Brightsurf:

Consumers value difficult decisions over easy choices
In a paper co-authored by Gaurav Jain, an assistant professor of marketing in the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer, researchers found that disfluency, or the difficulty for an individual to process a message, increases people's attitudes toward that message after a time delay.

Evolutionary theory of economic decisions
When survival over generations is the end game, researchers say it makes sense to undervalue long shots that could be profitable and overestimate the likelihood of rare bad outcomes.

Decisions made for incapacitated patients often not what families want
Researchers from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University report in a study published in JAMA Network Open that nearly half of the time medical treatments and orders received for incapacitated patients were not compatible with goals of care requested by their surrogate decision makers.

Which COVID-19 models should we use to make policy decisions?
A new process to harness multiple disease models for outbreak management has been developed by an international team of researchers.

For complex decisions, narrow them down to two
When choosing between multiple alternatives, people usually focus their attention on the two most promising options.

Fungal decisions can affect climate
Research shows fungi may slow climate change by storing more carbon.

How decisions unfold in a zebrafish brain
Researchers were able to track the activity of each neuron in the entire brain of zebrafish larvae and reconstruct the unfolding of neuronal events as the animals repeatedly made 'left or right' choices in a behavioral experiment.

Best of the best: Who makes the most accurate decisions in expert groups?
New method predicts accuracy on the basis of similarity.

How do brains remember decisions?
Mammal brains -- including those of humans -- store and recall impressive amounts of information based on our good and bad decisions and interactions in an ever-changing world.

How we make complex decisions
MIT neuroscientists have identified a brain circuit that helps break complex decisions down into smaller pieces.

Read More: Decisions News and Decisions Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.