The age-old debate of whether or not women prefer visiting a shopping centre without their spouses has finally been answered. According to the findings of Project Ka-Ching, a survey conducted by Columinate on behalf Liberty Properties; it confirmed that women prefer leaving their partners at home when going to a shopping centre. The study looked at male/female shopping trends in South Africa and comprised of varied responses according to age, race and income levels. Interesting to note, the survey found that whilst 43 percent of women said they felt comfortable leaving their partners behind when going shopping, only 21 percent of men made a similar acknowledgement. Seemingly men have no qualms being accompanied by a partner when visiting a mall. Mel Urdang, Director of Retail and Leasing at Liberty Properties said: “The results of the survey are quite telling in that they not only reveal consumer behaviour, they are also indicative of the relationship that men and women have with shopping centres. For example, when going shopping, 87 percent of women surveyed said they take their kids to the mall, while 73 percent of men are happy to take their children along, a significant difference in behaviour. One must however temper the thinking with the reality of women being the primary caregivers.” “Most women visit shopping centres for leisure, while men maintain transactional relationships with shopping centres. Generally, family ties are important to South Africans, but when it’s time to hit the shops, the rules are bent a little.” While women’s visits to shopping centres are longer, they are less likely to spend on luxury items; 65 percent of women said they have changed their purchasing patterns and are now buying fewer luxury items such as perfume and jewellery. When asked which items they would never compromise on, shoes were at the top of the list. Couples with children tend to share similar frustrations about shopping centres, and at the top of the list is the lack of trolleys to put children in – 20 percent of parents said this is a common problem at shopping centres. 11 percent of parents said they are frustrated by the limited number of family friendly dining facilities and 13 percent said that their biggest source of frustration is the lack of baby changing areas and entertainment. The economic downturn has dented the pockets of South Africans, and many are starting to cut back on certain items. 53 percent of those surveyed said they have cut down on dining out, and a large number of respondents said they are now spending less on entertainment items such as music and CD’s (47%), magazines (45%), DVD’s and videos (44%), and books (42%). “It’s clear a vast majority of people are under financial stress and have had to either cut down on certain items or cancel them off their budget completely. This trend is likely to continue as global economic growth remains subdued, and the effects of stagnant growth are felt in the local economy. The survey has indicated a majority of consumers have been spending less on items they consider luxuries. “ “It is important to note that consumers do not necessarily consider an item as luxury on the basis of the price tag, some consumers consider clothes a luxury while others see perfumes or jewellery as luxuries, hence it is more product related” added Urdang.