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What Do Men Want? To Splurge on Their Man Caves

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By Laura Heller, dealnews Writer

You might think that women shop more than men, but this holiday season, it's actually the other way around. Men are spending more, and this year, they're actually spending it on themselves!

What do men want? We hit the road with our video camera to find out.

This holiday season, men are expected to spend more than women during than — $20 more on average — according to the National Retail Federation. They also spend less time in stores — about half according to a survey by Consumer Reports — and they are also likely to put in more online research time.

Get in and get out, is the mantra. But the real trend developing is that retailers are following the men, panting after their dollars.

Men’s fashion is in the biggest spotlight, even National Public Radio devoted programming to the subject of men’s fashion and in the category of purely anecdotal evidence, some recent store openings in Chicago (where I live) serve to reinforce the trend.

Isle of Man, on Chicago’s North side, is named for the motorcycle race of the same name, and stocks products meant to appeal to the kind of guy who might spend a weekend racing a bike around an island at insane speeds. There’s retro motorcycle gear, toiletries and moto-themed apparel and accessories.

A few miles away, a men’s boutique Haberdash opened its second location. Expanding a retail concept in this economy is bold and testament to the profitability of the concept. True, luxury retail sales are strong as that part of the population has resumed spending to a large extend. Stores like Haberdasher and Isle of Man certainly appeal to men of means, but discretionary spending has been subtle and scaled back for the past two years.

There are signs that men other than the wealthy are spending on themselves too. Sears is encouraging them to do just that this holiday with promotions for its “ultimate game room.” There’s a dedicated Web site and sales on items guys either want to get as gifts or buy for themselves.

“Typically we find that 40% of the male test population are actually purchasing for themselves or single households,” said Michael Mantini, an Associate Buyer for the category at Sears. “Females are typically buying for the family, while 70% of game room customers are married with children.”

There’s pool tables, ping pong and air hockey, and makeovers of customers recreation rooms captured on video. Kind of a blueprint to guys with aspirations. Electronics, fitness equipment, home theater and video games play a role here, but there’s an overall man cave theme that goes beyond a giant TV.

Once again, these aren’t cheap items, ranging from $350 for an air hockey game to $1,550 for a pool table. All are on sale for the holiday’s, anywhere from $100 to $450 off, but this isn’t typical discount store goods.

“Customers are willing to spend,” said Mantini. “And as people begging to have more available cash to spend I think we will see that resurgence.”



Laura Heller is a freelance writer based in Chicago who specializes in mass market retail trends and consumer electronics industries. You can follow her on Twitter @lfheller. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.



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