By John Stanley Donâ€™t tell me consumers donâ€™t have time to go shopping; they have all the time in the world. You just have to make sure that the time is spent in your store. The key is to split the couple up before they go shopping, it can make a huge difference. Research carried out by Mary Portas in the U.K. and reported in her book â€œHow to Shop with Mary, Queen of Shopsâ€ (BBC Books ISBN 978 1 846 072147) shows that when a woman goes shopping with a man they spend, on average, 4 minutes 41 seconds in a store. Women shopping alone spend 5 minutes 2 seconds in a store, but when two women go shopping together they spend 8 minutes 51 seconds on average in the same store. Compare this with research carried out by Jim Bradley of Mid Ulster Garden Centre, Northern Ireland and published in the March edition of the American Magazine, Garden Chic. He discovered that men on average spend 8 minutes in his garden centre and spend $19 (US) whilst women on average spend 1 hour 30 minutes and spend $121 (US) in the same garden centre. Ban Men from Shopping What is the secret, ban men from shopping if we look at the above figures? Research carried out in 2003 by Doctor Tim Dennison at Exeter University Retail Division on behalf of Bartley Card discovered that women and men do shop differently. 60% of men, most of the time, are classified as hunters when shopping. They have a target and a mind set. They are not seduced by the retail experience and they rarely talk to staff. They look for store layouts that are easy to navigate and rely on simple, but effective signage. On the other hand, 78% of women, most of the time, are classified as gatherers. They enjoy shopping for the experience and spend lots of time shopping; they browse for pleasure and look to salespeople to deepen their shopping experience. If you compare these two models of shoppers it is understandable that if you put them together the shopping experience is often going to be a disaster. In a 2004 report from the U.S.A. entitled â€œHow America Shopsâ€ it highlighted that 64% of women consider browsing shops as a quality experience, even if 66% of them were also looking for a bargain. Having said that, a January 2002 report in Crafters Retailer Magazine indicated that 60% of consumers were drawn to colour not price. How Can We Use this Information to our Benefit? I have always been an advocate of splitting couples up when they go shopping as it allows the hunter to go hunting whilst the gatherers explore. The result is the overall average sale per customer goes up, but how can you achieve this? Split categories up that appeal to different sexes. The best example I can give you is that used in many hardware stores. The power tools, â€œtoys for the boysâ€ are often located at the opposite end of the store to the gardening category; a mainly female led category. The aim being to provide a play zone for both sexes where they can spend time without being harassed by their partner. Provide coffee and newspapers. I always remember when I lived near Bath in Somerset, U.K. The ladies fashion shop had a coffee bar at the far end and always had todayâ€™s newspaper and up to date sports magazine. The result of this is that the gents would linger in the coffee bar reading the newspapers while the women are buying their fashion clothes. By encouraging both parties to linger longer the average sale increased and everyone was happy. Promote Yourself to Target Groups The key to success is to target specific groups. One garden centre in the U.K. sends out birthday cards to 35 year old women in his catchment area with a Â£35 voucher to spend in his garden centre. They theory being that if he can catch them at that age and do a great job of customer service, he will have them for life. Customers will spend time in your store if they feel relaxed, it is more than a voucher and a cup of coffee. We need to provide them with the correct amount of space to enable them to relax as well as ensuring temperature and light levels are at a comfortable level. Consumers may tell you they are looking for convenience and the cheapest price, but you need to ensure they can linger longer and they will spend more.