June 22, 2006

The World's Biggest Shopaholic

Shoppers can apparently be split into two types: recreational shoppers and non-recreational shoppers. "Recreational shoppers', as its name suggests, are people who shop for fun. The "non-recreational" type shop only when they need to.

According to a survey by ACNielsen (an international consumer market research group,) the highest percentage of "recreational shoppers" are in Asia-Pacific. The No.1 countries are Hong Kong and Indonesia, both with 93% of the people surveyed who shop for fun. The U.S. and U.K. have 68% and 34% recreational shoppers respectively.

The survey results actually make sense. Living in a city, such as Hong Kong, there are really little one does in ones free time. In Hong Kong, 90% of the time I go out (non-work related) is for shopping. (By shopping, I could mean all kinds of shopping -window shopping, grocery shopping, target shopping etc.) Because afterall, if I don't go shopping, what else is there fun to do in the city? At least when I was studying in the UK, I could take the occasional weekend trip out of London to visit friends. And when I visit my relatives in San Francisco, I could just ride a bike whenever I want to, but in Hong Kong, one would have to make an effort to go to the countryside.

The conclusion? It is logical that there are more recreational shoppers in city since there is less to do (and a lot more shops and products to choose from.) So my question is, are you a recreational shopper?


Blogger Greg said...

Proud to be a part of that 68%!

[P.S. I like your blog!]

6/22/2006 3:28 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

"Recreation Shopping" is my middle name!!

6/22/2006 3:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your analysis is a little lacking in analysis:

several factors can explain the higher rate of recreational shopping in the US and Hong Kong. In the US, the average person has a much larger disposable income than someone living in the UK. also, stores like walmart offer very affordable goods to everyone, due to the less regulated and more free-market american economy. combine these factors with a culture of rabid consumerism and you have a high rate of recreational shopping. similar thinking might explain the phenomenon in hong kong, but different factors would have to explain the trends in poorer parts of south-east asia - perhaps weak IP laws and lots of available cheap knock-offs.

finally, while a trip to the country side might distract a few rich people from weekend shopping, there are far more distractions in cities themselves: museums, movie theatres, gyms, television, parks, music shows, bars, restaurants, arcades, etc. so why are americans shopping? well, for the same reason they're doing everything else: culture and a good economy.

and, by the way, while you may shop less in san fransisco, i guarentee that people who live in california shop far more than people living inland in the midwest - they probably shop more than any other population group in the US, with the exception of new york and maybe atlanta.

6/22/2006 4:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting post, harrod's girl--i had no idea asia-pacific would surpass the us in recreational shopping. what about various other areas of europe besides the uk?

6/22/2006 4:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the uk percentage is really surprising to me...

6/22/2006 4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the UK is not surprising to me at all - that's what massively high taxes will do to consumerism.

6/22/2006 5:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"it is only logical that there are more recreational shoppers in the city since there is less to do"?

hm. i thought it was possible to be both smart and really into fashion. i'd say your blog has proved me wrong, but that would be using your kind of "logic."

6/22/2006 5:20 AM  
Anonymous Jacobsgirl said...

i think what harrods girl means is that there is less to do in the city that excludes any type of shopping- sure there seems like there is much more in the city but really look at it-- its all shops! rather than in the country where u dont shop as much because there arnt as many shops and much more besdies shopping to do

6/22/2006 5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there was a discussion on this blog about the relatively high prices in the uk. i wondered then how anyone there could afford to shop. it appears from this study that many can't. plus i've heard and read that shopping is not all that pleasant in the uk due to cantankerous shop employees.

6/22/2006 5:46 AM  
Anonymous Ali said...

I lived in the UK for a year and had to seriously cut back on shopping simply because everything was so expensive, especially with my puny US dollars... I agree with some other commenters that the statement that there is less to do in the city does not make sense unless Harrod's Girl meant that there is less to do that does not involve shopping of some sort... there are so many things to do in cities that do not involve shopping that are not accessible in more remote areas: museums, theatre, art, music, etc.

6/22/2006 5:58 AM  
Blogger the muse said...

I have a question, how did you do the banner on your page? e-mail me at:saturnino3@netzero.net.
and to answer your question I'm a recreational shopper :)

6/22/2006 7:51 AM  
Anonymous maryeats said...

Even in you wanted to be a target shopper, in Seoul it is impossible. Shopping is a daily activity for Seoul dwellers. You can even shop while riding the subway. Much different than from when I lived in Seattle.

6/22/2006 8:10 AM  
Blogger Princess Sarah said...

i'm from canada - i definitely shop recreationally and i guess i have since i was young (although i did so much more back then).

i think it's more that it's part of the culture in those places. i get the feeling that there is a higher percentage of people who like to have flashy new things and show off their toys (note: i haven't been to hong kong, but this is definitely the case in the UAE). In North America, I think there are more people in general who are worried about their finances on a daily basis (worry about savings, payments, retirement is a part of the culture here).

6/22/2006 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from an asian's persective (which i am), i do personally think that there are more rec. shoppers in asia than there are in us. i dont know about other european countries since i've never been to europe, but i can conclude my opinion based on my experience living in asian countries and here in the united states.

6/22/2006 9:36 AM  
Blogger K said...

I definitely agree with the survey, coming from hong kong myself (living in AUS). When in hong kong, all I do is shop shop shop. I think it also has to do with variety, because inevitably... a larger population = larger variety, no? In Sydney, my spare time is maybe....40% shopping. The other 60% is taken up by sports and beaches. IMO, Hong Kong is too polluted for that.

6/22/2006 10:29 AM  
Blogger Harrods Girl said...

9:21pm: When I mean there are not a lot of things to do in the city, I mean shopping as something that one actually has to leave ones building to do. I could go to the gym that is in the same building I live in. Watching TV and gym is hardly the same as going out with friends. There really aren't all that many museums, besides, wouldn't museums get boring after one or two visits? There are even less music shows in HK. I generally associate going to the movies with shopping. I guess it's because all the main movie theatres here are in or next to shopping malls. And ok, seriously, arcades? I think you've overestimated the non-shopping related activities available in the city.

And yes, I do admit there are more reasons than the seriously simple reason I outlined in my post. My post isn't meant to be an in-depth analysis of the survey. It's just meant to be a culture difference I observed after living in those places.

And yes, being the multi-tasker that I am, the post is biased. I wouldn't make the effort to most destinations and not window-shop when shops are right next to them. And if I on a given day I only have time to say, watch a movie but not look around shops for 30 mins, then I wouldn't have gone to the movie in the first place because I probably was too busy that day to go out anyways if I can't even spare 30 mins. Besides, you can't get to a movie theatre without passing by shops.

10:46pm: I def shop waaay less in London. Even the food is seriously expensive.

6/22/2006 1:01 PM  
Blogger love-is-enough said...

recreational shopper....for sure! Yesterday I actually needed to give my cards and cash to friends so I didn't spend anything, it's like impossible for me to window shop! As for the previous comments on Harrods Girls' analysis, come on guys, this isn't a college thesis or anything! Love your work girls, you're set as my homepage!

6/22/2006 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

recreational shopping is fun but can be financially perilous. ask yourself "will this make me happy?" before deciding whether to make a purchase. there is often some reason why it won't (don't need it, can't afford it, impractical, uncomfortable, and so on.) you will buy less and have only what truly makes you happy.

6/22/2006 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a strange preoccupation with consumerism in Asian societies and in particular, with Western luxury brands. The explanation I have always read is that young people in Asia tend to live at home for a longer period of time than their Western counterparts, thereby freeing up disposable income for shopping. I have also thought that the preoccupation with Western luxury goods is a way of somehow attaining equal status with Western societies or displaying economic status, and is also due to the lack of interest in or destruction of native luxury economies - think of the Cultural Revolution in China, for example. In any case, I think that there is a difference between passive and active entertainment, and recreational shopping is certainly the former.

6/22/2006 10:59 PM  
Blogger Shopaholic D said...

hmmm....maybe my shopaholicism is in my blood then b/c I'm half asian (half filipino to be precise). interesting....

oh, and if you couldn't tell by my name, i'm definitely a recreational shopper :)

6/23/2006 12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where I'm from (Dubai, UAE) there's an obsession with shopping here to the point where almost every fashion or girly section in a general forum has to have a "What's your latest purchase?" topic where girls blog in their latest swag.
Granted, there's almost peer pressure to just go out and buy something that non-recrational shopping is made to sound like recrational shopping.
Your comment about being in a city with nothing to do contributing to increase in shopping is spot on in this case; apart from shopping, there's not much to do in Dubai - unless you bake on the beach, dine out, catch a movie or shop.

6/23/2006 3:56 AM  
Blogger altacostura said...

Recent news said that in Spain people waste more money that they have... as life is getting more and more expensive and the social trend shows an increasing inclination towards leisure pursuites and none-sense shopping (as in most societies), I guess the global trend is getting people to become recreational shoppers.

Obviously I am an absolutely recreational shopper ;)

6/23/2006 5:02 AM  
Anonymous Laura Murphy said...

I've lived in Hong Kong most of my life and I agree with the survey. Everyone here shops a lot, but for me, I love it because it's so cheap. I generally like the local designers because of the huge demand for huge brands like Ferregamo and Gucci they can get left behind. I also need to stock up before I head over to UK for university where apparently drinking will be the appropriate recreation.
Who wouldn't shop here when you can get two pairs of shoes for HK$100 and a cute summer dress for HK$60.
I love Granville Rd.
I love Hong Kong.
Being a student in HK we have more time for other recreations like going to the beach, playing sports, watching Arrested Development, walking the dog, chilling in Pacific Coffee House, laughing in Pacific Coffee House... chasing cockroaches?
I enjoy your blog.

6/23/2006 10:29 AM  
Blogger City Slicker said...

I am an Ex New Yorker living in London and that US vs UK stat does make sense, if you dont count Topshop!
Liked the site

6/23/2006 10:59 PM  
Blogger VertigoVirgo said...

I am such a recreational shopper to the point where it is non-recreational...really...it's that bad, and to make it worse...I work right across the street from the mall! YIKES! "no lunch hour is safe!"

6/24/2006 5:14 AM  
Anonymous susie_bubble said...

I've had experience in living/shopping in all three places - US (NYC), UK (London) and HK. The stats may say that UK rec shoppers are comparatively less than the US and it is true that shopping IS more expensive. But I personally do more rec shopping here in London than I ever did during my stay in NYC (and that stay was INTENDED to be 100% shopping). I find the shops in London more to my taste, the variety - markets, vintage stores, even the department stores are nicer. NYC does have amazing shops but for some reason, as soon as I went out, I felt harrassed and hurried. Like shopping in Macy's is just really stressful compared to say meandering in Liberty's.
This is just personal opinion of course and many ppl would agree that the stats ring true purely because of the price differences. I also disagree with the disposable income bit as well that someone mentioned, because though UK prices are higher - and I think I've said this before on this blog - UK income somehow works out higher too. The average grad London pay is £24k but in NYC, it's lower like $20k and that's in dollars!

As for Hong Kong, I do agree that you can't escape shopping wherever you are because the whole damn city is literally made up of shopping malls! However, I have trawled for other things to do and now when I go back, I try to make shopping maybe count for 40% of what I do as opposed to 99%! There's a few alternative cinemas that I go to, more and more art exhibitions are popping up, the HK Cultural centre usually has a few ballets on and then there is EATING, definitely the activity second to shopping in Hong Kong.

6/24/2006 4:34 PM  
Anonymous helen said...

I'm a recreational online shopper . I am 'addicted' to window shopping for the bargains . Being wheelchair bound i cannot easily visit town so this is the next best thing

6/25/2006 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the figure for UK is quite fair although this isnt entirely because of the high prices. The British have reasonable income too, to match that. Come to think of it, they have all sorts of taxes. You name them, they pay 'em. Plus, there are other recrational things too. Like their night outs and holidays.

6/26/2006 11:35 PM  
Blogger . said...


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There's a lot of information about shopping available out there. However, most of it is in terms we normally cannot comprehend. This site is designed to explain all about it in simple, layman's terms.

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