High Streets Initiative · 6 November 2017

Retailers expand male product offering as men become UK’s biggest spenders

Men are now spending more than women on grooming products and treatments
Men are now spending more than women on grooming products and treatments

Almost seven in ten online retailers have increased the scale of their male product range in the last five years, as new research debunks the myth that female shoppers are spending more on UK high streets and online.

After polling over 2,000 adults, Barclaycard found that British men spend more on clothes, shoes and grooming products each month compared to women, despite common assumptions around fashion and cosmetics sales.

Both on the high street and online, retailers have experienced an uplift in men’s product sales, by 59 per cent and 69 per cent respectively, in the last five years.

Data from Barclaycard revealed where monthly spend was most concentrated between the two groups

Item Male (GBP) Female (GBP)
Clothes £67.10 £53.90
Shoes £46.90 £34.80
Beauty/grooming products £40.90 £35.30
Beauty/grooming treatments £39.30 £37.10
Eating out at restaurants £77.60 £54.00
Drinks with friends £60.30 £32.50
Tickets to sports matches £40.50 £23.60
Electronics £77.20 £50.70

Retailers could be benefitting from trends that suggest men are considerable less likely to return an item than women. According to Barclaycard’s research, just a quarter of returns processed by retailers were from male shoppers, with female counterparts not only spending less, but also three times more likely to return an item.

However, there were a number of factors preventing men from fully embracing the in-store shopping experience. The most common frustration was not being able to find their size in stock, followed by crowded stores and having to queue at the checkout. Some four in ten even said five minutes was the longest they’d wait before leaving the store.

Subsequently, men were much more likely to prefer shopping online than women, with an almost 50/50 split in favouring in-store or ecommerce. Two-thirds of retailers claimed Facebook had been the most successful tool in generating online sales from male shoppers.

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Commenting on the findings, George Allardice, head of strategy at Barclaycard Payment Solutions, said retailers could target some of the pain points for male shoppers and further benefit from their growing enthusiasm for shopping.

“The rise of social and digital media has made shopping more accessible and convenient for men, which in-turn has increased their purchasing power,” Allardice said.

“As the shopping experience continues to evolve, it’s important that retailers not only keep up with new trends, but capitalise on emerging technologies to provide good customer service across all channels, for every consumer. For instance – allowing shoppers to check the availability of sizes online and then quickly and easily pick-up and pay in-store could help harness loyalty by providing a faster and easier check-out process and keep customers returning time and again.”

Read more from the Business Advice High Streets Initiative

This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.