Although men have been doing more household shopping for years, since the onset of the recession theyve been hitting the aisles in greater numbers. Stores and manufacturers are paying closer attention.
Were seeing a lot of men who are stay-at-home dads, working from home or looking for a job, said Phil Lempert, an industry analyst and consultant for ConAgra Foods. Thats changed everything.
Earlier this year, Schnuck Markets released consumer research showing that 6 percent more men have become their households primary shopper compared with five years ago. That research echoes national studies. In the 1980s, men did only 14 percent of the shopping.
Some chains, including Target and Walmart, have discussed launching man aisles. One small chain in New York City has taken the concept to something of an extreme, stocking end caps the displays at the end of the aisles with man-centric items.
We came across the ESPN study that showed the drastic increase in men shopping, said Ian Joskowitz, chief operating officer of New York-based Westside Market. We figured: What can we do to cater to these guys? And we figured wed make a little section for men, with beer, hot sauce, batteries, Doritos, beef jerky, Slim Jims.
The way men grocery shop is also changing. It used to be that men did the fill-in shopping, after being dispatched to the store to get last-minute items. Now theyre doing the menu-planning, making lists and filling up the cart.
The recession may explain the trend, as men have been disproportionately laid off.
Weve seen higher levels of unemployment among men men who are in construction or trade jobs and its clamping down on their money, said Darren Tristano, of Chicago-based market research firm Technomic. The additional time they have is spent focusing on how to reduce spending. In many households where women are the breadwinners, men are forced to do the shopping.
But more men also are shopping by choice because more are cooking at home.
Weve got a big trend in the culture. Just like people go to games, now theyre going to dinner parties. They cook meals for each other, said Crystal Merritt of St. Louis advertising agency Rodgers Townsend. Its cool to be a guy who cooks, and thats whats getting them into the food aisle.
Its a trend were watching. The family dynamic has changed over the years, said Marlene Gebhard, president of Kirkwood, Mo.-based Shop n Save. Its become one of those tasks on the household to-do list that doesnt fall to the female. It falls to whomever has the time.