May 29, 2007

"Grocery Stores Overwhelming to Men"

Oh for Pete's sake.

According to this article, men are big babies who can't handle grocery shopping, and something must be done to make it easier for them.

Mandy Putnam, vice president at a Fancy Consulting firm, complains: "men do represent a large part of grocery shopping dollars and they aren't being very well accommodated."

Boo f*cking hoo.

There were so many annoying things in this article that we could be here all day, but let's start with a health-related aspect because at least in theory, this is a Health and Fitness site.

One of the main stressors for men attempting to navigate the scary aisles of their local grocery stores is this: there are too many choices. They're having melt-downs in the cereal aisle, according to Putnam. Well, it's true: in a big supermarket, there are tons of things you don't want that you have to wade through to find the things you do.

The implication is that to make it easier for men, there should be fewer choices so they won't get confused. Hmm. Well, what would that mean?

It would mean we'd all shop at Very Large Convenience Stores from now on. And we'd get to buy what the Average Consumer wants to purchase. Are Average Consumers healthy eaters? Hell no. Which items would be the first to go to make the shelves less intimidating to men when they're searching for their Doritos? My guess: all the healthier choices that are less popular than the regular versions. Say goodbye to the low salt version, the whole wheat version, the 50% less sugar version, the entire Organic section.

The fact that there are generalizations and stereotypes in the article didn't bother Crabby. It didn't say all men. And she is prepared to believe that, on average, men are less likely to ask for help, less likely to bother to find bargains, less likely to try new things, more likely to abandon the search for an item if they can't find it easily. What bothers Crabby is the implication: that this is the store's problem.

Crabby thinks the real problem is one of entitlement. Grocery shopping, if done carefully, is a pain in the ass. For everyone. But many men (not Crabby's fine male readers, though they are certainly Manly Men) don't think they should have to do it. Not really. It's women's work, even the women who also have full time jobs of their own.

In fact, in pointing out that more men are shopping now, the article noted "71 percent of men said they had shopped in a grocery store in the past three months." Turn that on its head: almost a third of men haven't been in a grocery store in the last three months.

So Crabby will take a deep, calming breath and cease her ranting for now. But she's curious what you all think: do men need special accommodations in grocery stores? Is Crabby just being small minded about this?

Answers to these questions or any other grocery or non-grocery related thoughts are most welcome below.


  1. Oh for the love of fuzzy bunny.
    Men can't do grocery shopping now?
    Please. I'm sure they can figure it out.
    How about maps for grocery stores? Would that increase the appeal?
    Put Xs on the map noting low-fat here, or full-fat there or organics in aisle three, whatever.
    That said, I did see one dog-awful sight one day where a fellow was on his cell phone in the frozen foods being told what to purchase.

  2. Well, if grocery shopping is too complicated for the widdle pweshuses, what the heck are they doing trying to run the WORLD???

  3. Karen read this article Sunday. Her response was the research must have been done by a man who didn't want to do the shopping.

    Does he want some cheese with his whine???

    I've never been to a grocery store, as retail descriminates against felines (whatever). All I know is that Karen seems to located the right food and kitty treats for me and Sadie, so how hard can it be?


  4. BTW: Still working on the meme.


  5. *snarls* What a load of bull! I think whoever wrote this is a wee bit bitter. I think men everywhere should be insulted by this (or maybe see it as a wake up call?).

  6. SmartCookie's SmartHubby has no trouble with grocery shopping. It is all about the training. He now knows the difference between iceberg and romaine, and I don't mean that condescendingly. It just never occurred to him. But he did know that I wanted lettuce. So cute.

  7. Ok, I have to weigh in on this one big time. I think the reason men have a problem a the grocery store is because it is not in their "usual" list of everyday chores. It is not one of the manly tasks like using a chainsaw, snowblower or other loud powertool in their arsenal that is usually assigned to their gender. HOWEVER, when it becomes the man's "regular" chore, I think they can do a fine job at it. Ironically, in my current state of not being able to walk, my husband has taken over grocery shopping along with all my other "girly" chores. Yes, he may have been the one that you spied calling home for info while in the frozen food section, but all in all, he is learning sales pricing schemes, preferred brands, etc. He has come a long way from the guy that I sent to the store a few years ago with ONE of each of the items on my list that I wrote "BOGO" next to, because he couldn't find the BOGO brand!

  8. Leah--your idea about the maps? Excellent. But in the article they went even further, suggesting carts be fitted with wireless computer devices to somehow make it easier for men to find what they want. And um, who's going to end up paying for them?

    bunngirl--no kidding! (I guess a certain World Leader thought WMD was in Aisle 8, but it wasn't, and instead of asking a clerk for the right aisle he just said what the heck, I'm here anyway.)

    Penelope--I think it's terrible they don't allow felines in grocery stores. However, you're not missing much.

    And thanks for being willing to play the Slacker meme! One if it's Most Important Features is that there's no deadline at all. Any old time you've got some links you want to direct folks too, you have an excuse 'cause you've been tagged. But it doesn't matter when. That's part of its fundamental Slackiness.

    Hi Sera!
    I think there are a lot of men who are excellent shoppers and should be offended by these generalizations. But I imagine there are a certain number who take pride in their inability to grocery shop because they're just too darn masculine to feel comfortable reading labels or asking where something is.

  9. Wow, so your saying men don't like shopping? Who knew?

  10. Oops, sorry Holly, missed your comment while I was posting.

    I totally agree that guys who start taking it on as a regular chore can do it every bit as well. I guess the trick is getting them to think of it as a regular chore instead of a special favor.

    While sustaining painful injuries that render one unable to walk might be a rather extreme method of accomplishing this, it sounds pretty effective!

    (Just kidding obviously. And hope it's getting better. You must be going nuts.)

  11. Hi Samantha!
    But it's all the grocery stores fault! Bad, bad stores!

  12. Oh jeez, here I am again.

    SmartCookie, I missed your comment too, sorry.

    Good thing you have a trainable husband! The whole iceberg re-education issue is a challenging one. I realize that a good part of the population still thinks that lettuce means Iceberg, and anything else is rabbit food.

  13. So, this is why I do all the grocery shopping around here huh? It's not false. Oh, we get groceries if Ben goes shopping -- we get ice cream and chips and soda. Sometimes he throws in a block of cheese for good measure. Lord. Men can't handle this...can you imagine if they had to handle childbirth. Women rock. Although, I do have to confess that I hate clothes shopping and Ben can handle that. But you can't live on clothing.

  14. I try my hardest to encourage my husband NOT to do the shopping. He is able to find things just fine and knows where everything is located. But when he goes (and he loves to go), without exception- he gets everything on my list exactly as I asked, but also brings in bags of donuts, oreos, cream, fritos, and about 80 more forms of lard and salt.

  15. As I recall men designed the flipping supermarkets, most are owned by men, and the majority of the management is, uh, male. So what exactly is the problem?

    Pilates & Reiki In Paradise Website
    Pilates & Reiki In Paradise Blog

  16. And I have added you to my blogroll, so if you'd like to show me some link love that would be fab!

    Pilates & Reiki In Paradise Website
    Pilates & Reiki In Paradise Blog

  17. "Many men have difficulty finding items, forego buying rather than risk purchasing a substitute for an item on the grocery list and hesitate to ask for help if they can't find an item, Putnam said in her report."

    Geeze. You'd think men were, like, stupid or something. At least it's a nice break from us girls being the "weaker vessels".

  18. My hubby loves shopping at the supermarket. Anytime he offers to help we spend about double the usual amount, and come laden with everything we really shouldn't eat!

  19. LMAO at what bunnygirl said, and I second it. GAH!

    My hubby and I always grocery shop together, and he does as good a job as I do -- we're a good grocery shopping team.

    And btw, my wonderful hubby, who is as manly a man as they come, is vacuuming up the house-dust-and-hair-bunnies right now. :-D

    I agree with you, Crabby -- psaw on special accommodations in grocery store for men who can't find the Cheerios at the ends of their noses.

  20. Hi Jennifer!
    My Dad shopped the same way as Ben when we were kids--at the time I just loved it. (And I have to confess I hate clothes shopping too. Afraid I'm not a girly girl and would happily buy men's clothes which seem much more sensibly sized and priced if I were just a bit broader in the shoulders and could fit them. Is this TMI?).

    Katieo-well, he gets major points for getting the right stuff too. But it's so hard to resist treats if they're right there in the house. Oreos--I miss Oreos! But I'm glad they're not in the cupboard.

    Lynda, welcome!
    And that's a really good point about who designs the darn stores in the first place! Thanks for visitng.

    I should be updating my blogroll again before too long--but rather than cultivate a massive blogroll, which is what I thought I'd want to do originally, I think I'm going to move to a different system. One where the folks on it are people who visit here at least semi-regularly and have sites that I visit too. (Different blogs seem to approach this issue totally differently, and I'm only now figuring out what I want to do). So if it looks like our blogs are pretty compatable, I'll certainly put you on there! (And if that seems too stingy I certainly understand; feel free to take me off. But I really appreciate both your visit and your linkage--that was really nice.

    Hi Chicken Girl!
    I thought that quote was really funny too. (And of course they're not stupid, though some may play dumb strategically to avoid chores).

    Hey Dawn--
    I'm having withdrawal symptoms waiting for your next post (and it's not like it's been days and days or anything, I've just gotten too addicted), so I'm glad to see you here. There seems to be a trend in the comments of Nice Husbands Who Bring Home Treats, and though it may be diet-defeating, it strikes Crabby as pretty adorable. (As long as they don't forget the nonfat milk and the Romaine lettuce).

    And Thomma Lyn--
    Somehow I'm not surprised that you'd also have a Wonderful Dust-Bunny Vanquishing husband!

  21. I've found that, regardless of gender, the person who cooks and pays the bills is the best shopper. You learn to care about accuracy and quality when it's your job to use what you bought.

  22. Anonymous,
    Very good point, and well said.

    If one is shopping "for someone else" (even if part of the same household) it's a very different experience than when the budget and meal preparation are one's own responsiblity.

    The fact that these responsibilities are still so gender-determined (generally) seems a bit depressing to me. But I know there are plenty of exceptions.

    Thanks for the comment!

  23. Men aren't being accomodated by supermarkets????

    THIS is what we worry about these days?


  24. Hi Laura,
    I know, isn't it tragic? Those poor, poor, men.

    So, another Woman of Mystery! You folks have a great site. I'll try to look out for your posts as well as Terrie's now. Thanks for stopping by!

  25. I have no comment, other than...24 comments! It's like you've arrived. Good job you blogger you. I'm impressed.

  26. Weird, because I can't handle shopping. I hate it in all it's forms. I can't stand browsing. I try to buy clothes and other durables when I see them before I need them. My boyfriend does all the grocery shopping. I just tell him what I need. Done!

  27. Hey yah, Jennifer!
    Thanks. It's nice, I love hearing from everyone. (Though I think at least 6 of those comments are mine, so they don't really "count"!)

    I hate shopping too! Though part of my problem is that once I'm there, I do a lot of browsing, so it takes forever. I have to find the BEST thing, and to know it's the best I have to check out everything else too.

    It sounds like you have yet another Sensible Male who is not at all flummoxed by the shopping thing. We'll have to alert the consultants and tell "nevermind" on the overhaul of all our grocercy stores to accomodate the clueless variety.

  28. Articles like this drive me nuts. Grocery shopping isn't any more difficult than doing the laundry or washing the dishes. Guys claim they can't learn to do those chores properly, and they get excused from them because they have women around who are willing to jump in and get them done. The truth is that there is no reason guys couldn't learn the same way I did - by doing the dang chores.

    I suspect that part of lack of male grocery shopping skills is diet related. Since women are typically expected to do the cooking, we are the ones who "want" the groceries. If you don't eat fresh vegetables or cook anything from scratch, you simply don't have to go to the grocery store very often.

  29. Good observations, Peggy, and welcome back. We need Smart Scientists here at Cranky Fitness, where research tends to be a bit casual.

    It's interesting that somehow (generalizing here, massively) women are generally more concerned about eating healthy, and thus must shop in self-defense. Guys are so good at maintaining their cars, why don't they (again, overgeneralizing) care more about maintaining their health?

  30. Lots of great comments here, Crabby! the only thing I can think to add is that in general, grocery stores aren't laid out in a "user friendly" fashion.

    They don't want us just popping in for one or two things that we need, oh no, the bread and the milk and the head of lettuce are at the three farthest points from each other in the store.

    They want people to have to go up and down every aisle looking for stuff so we'll make impulse purchases. Add to that when the store changes its whole layout so the places you used to know to go straight to for your stuff are now aisles for other stuff you didn't come for but end up buying...

  31. Dawno,
    Excellent point about the sneaky layout. You're right, I think they're specially designed to plunk you in right in front of the potato chip displays!

  32. Men can shop just fine. They act like they can't so someone else will do it for them. At least that's what I've been accused of doing. Love your blog!

    Mr Fat

  33. Warning, non sequitur alert...Hey, do you know Safeway now sells brown rice sushi?

  34. Mr. Fat,
    Damn, I like your blog too. I was hoping I wouldn't, as I'm already behind in my blog visitation schedule.

    And you have a cat who blogs. Have you been introduced to Penelope? I can't remember if she's in this post or not, but she's worth tracking down and getting to know.

    And hi anonymous!
    I like brown rice but after an unfortunate food poisoning incident, not so much the sushi anymore. You must be a Smart Shopper to know this about Safeway; I will not speculate upon your gender.

  35. If men do need special accomodations in store? Hell no.

    And as a rule in my opiniong (sorry for the harsh wording): people in general should learn to get their fingers out of their ass, and stop demanding always more and more convenience to lead their lives.

    Or maybe I should whine and moan that doing the housework is way too complicated for a feeble poor woman, what's with all those chemical products to clean the floor, the tub, the dishes... Necause, hey, you see, I absolutely hate doing house chores. :)

  36. Hi Kery,


    I'm totally with you, both on the grocery store whining and the pain-in-the-assness of house cleaning. I hate it and it seems to take me a long time even to a really crappy job of it. So I tend to pay/bribe others whenever possible.

    Thanks so much for visiting!

  37. "Add to that when the store changes its whole layout so the places you used to know to go straight to for your stuff are now aisles for other stuff you didn't come for but end up buying..."

    I'll have to admit that the way I usually shop is to go up and down each aisle anyway, since I'm usually too lazy to make a list. That only works because I do most of the cooking, so I have a good idea if I need something when I see it.

    When my husband shops he always wants me to write up a list, which I hate to do because there is always something I forget to write down.

  38. Sounds like a very sensible system to me, Peggy! Plus you find new stuff by aisle-wandering.

    I make lists and then forget to bring them with me, so I do a fair amount of wandering too.

  39. I agree with Peggy's method; it's really the best way to run a kitchen. Of course, if you're also working and having a social life- you have to LEARN to fit it in. Those of us who shop regularly do just that.
    You are right on about stores' layouts- it's all in the MARKETING! They want us to buy more. That's it. That simple. So, we who shop reularly and diligently, know this and still accomplish our goals without too much straying.
    Women DO the majority of grocery shopping; therefore, MARKETING EXPERTS aim EVERYTHING in the store at females. Doesn't matter WHO did the planning, building or WHO owns the place. It's all aimed at getting your money. If you're female and you're COMFORTABLE in their layout/marketing scheme, THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL at achieving their goal- TAKING YOUR MONEY!

  40. Thanks for your comment, anonymous!
    And yep, I think you're right--Marketing may be behind virtually everything annoying about a grocery store.

  41. I'm not sure whether anyone has mentioned one of the problems with supermarkets -- they're depressing. Not just the bleak fluorescent lights overhead, but the array of chemically doctored, overly processed, heavily sugared and salted, excessively fragranced, wastefully packaged, insultingly marketed garbage for sale. Even the fresh produce don't look so good, chica. And I'm not just talking about Safeway. Almost any big chain supermarket is toxic to the soul. You survive the "choices" in the food aisles only to be faced with the intellectual equivalent of a lobotomy in those lurid tabloids at the cash register. I get the experience over as quickly as possible -- find what I need and get the hell out. Then I go to a smaller market or local produce store and do most of my shopping there. Mom 'n' Pop's usually a better choice than the corporate food mart anyway, n'est-ce pas?

  42. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  43. Appleton,
    I totally agree re: depressing big grocery stores. I'm lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with little shops, where I go most of the time. (But sometimes you need stuff like cat litter and big ass laundry detergent; thus the Safeway.)

    You had a duplicate post so I deleted it, though it might be fun to pretend there was something so scandalous and unprintable I had to remove it from public view.

  44. bosh! my boyfriend and brother can navigate a grocery store infinitely better than i can. almost every man i know can cook over his feminine counterpart, and about half of these can shop as prudently, and definitely more efficiently, than the girls i know. where do they get the men for this study? bumblefuck?

  45. Musical Mushroom, hi again!

    Yes, I do believe they polled all the men of Bumblefuck, carefully staking out the Bumblefuck Safeways and A&P's and Thriftway's and observing their clueless behavior. (Either that or FancyPants Marketing Consultant just found a way to get a little free publicity by saying something stupid & annoying).

    Thanks for stopping by!

  46. What a mistake I made being a man and coming to this blog via a comment and link left on another site. I have read two articles and what I find is male-bashing. Don't you women have something better to do than make abusive comments about men ?
    First-- Of course the stores want to accomodate men because they are in business to make money ! -- it took a man to point this out to you ladies who were so enjoying smarmy put-downs of men. When you want to make money you accomodate your potential customers. I imagine businesses who sell cars have specific ways to make women feel more comfortable-- because they want them to buy things !
    Anonymous makes another point. Men don't see shopping as a socio-sexual experience like women do (52% of women prefer shopping to sex-- I know its men's fault ). Men come in for a specific purpose then leave. The grocers want them to tally about and buy superfluous stuff-- men are typically much more goal-directed than women-- esp when they are doing non-enjoyable tasks-- and grocers want to inhibit this.
    Then the need women have to make abusive comments about men- primarily the host of this site
    1) It's men's "problem", not the store's-- see above-- its the store's problem-. If a store was seeking to accomodate women , you women here would talk about how sexism was being overcome. Hear you roar !
    2) The hostess of this blog makes a "joke" about kicking men in the genitals to accomplish a woman's goal. Violence isn't funny. Of course women think it is-- when it is directed against men. Maybe to get my wife to do what I want I should threaten to rape her. Or kick her between the legs. Get it ladies-- heck no. Lighten up, you say. Ok-- you too-- Why do women get off about attacking men's genitals. How weird and barbaric.
    3) The host of this blog talks about men as "trainable"-- insulting and demeaning of course. Hmmm-- how can we train women to stop being abusive towards men? Now that would be a chore! Women never "get it". It never occurs to them to treat men like they would want to be treated.Try-it--
    4. Men-- fell "entitled"-- they are all narcissists
    Men are "stupid" and the juvenile "Women rock!"--
    Its incredible this article engenders such comments. And these women on this board seem quite typical to me. The host of this blog just picked it so she could bash men--as entitled, kick them in the genitals, train them , its their problem.
    And her story about penises. I haven't read the comments-- but I know what to expect from women--- abusive , insensitive and demeaning comments. Hmm-- lets measure vaginas out to the tenth of an inch and make fun of women who don't measure up. Is it impossible for women to have any sense of humanity or decency or decorum---as empathy, understanding and the Golden Rule are way to much to hope for when we are dealing with women. Lighten up-- I know-- discrimination against women is sexism-- against men-- its humour !!

  47. Hi J Edwards,
    I'm really sorry I've offended you--some of the comments were just meant to be funny and may have been careless. But on many of these you seemed to have missed my point (my fault, not yours) and seen male-bashing where I didn't intend it. Because I don't see men as clueless--I certainly think they can handle grocery stores just fine! I was trying to make fun of the Expert, not men. (Although I do think there are at least a few men who act like shopping is beneath them, and these men I was indeed trying to make fun of).

    Sorry you had such a bad experience here! I have quite a few male readers, and while I like to tease guys every now and then, I hate to think I've been offending them all this time.

  48. Hilarious, Crabby. I blogged about this at Mark's Daily Apple (Kery gave me the hat tip to your post). Are Men Morons? I don't think so!

  49. Hi Sara,
    Great blog post you've got over at the Apple! The interesting thing is the way so many men and women seem to sort of like this stereotype--it makes women feel "smarter" and men feel more "manly" for not giving a crap about health. Weird!


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