Shopping: Hazardous to Men's Health

By Mitch Stacy, Associated Press Writer

LONDON, 2 Dec 98 (AP) -- Men who detest Christmas shopping have a new
excuse -- it's hazardous to the their health.

Male stress levels skyrocket when faced with crowded stores, choosing
gifts and standing in check-out lines, a British researcher says.

"In some cases, when we looked at heart rate and blood pressure, this is
something you'd expext to see in a fighter pilot going into combat or
policemen going into dangerous situations," said psychologist David
Lewis, who did the research.

Lewis' consulting firm was commissioned for the study by the Brent Cross
Shopping Center in north London as part of its efforts to reduce
shoppers' stress during the Christmas season.

Lewis recruited 35 shoppers and sent them last month to stores in
London's crowded Oxford Street with identical Christmas lists.  Shoppers
ranged in age from 22-79.  Two-thirds were women.  Some went alone and
some were accompanied by children.

Heart rate and blood pressure were regularly recorded by monitors worn
by the shoppers, who were interviewed by a researcher before and after
the trip.

Every man in the survey registered considerable increases in blood
pressure and heart rates while only one in four women registered a
significant change.

Most men surveyed admitted that the stress of Christmas shopping would
make them choose the first gift they see rather than spend time in
crowded stores.  Loud music in some stores also added to the stress for
male shoppers, Lewis said.

Lewis, who is writing a book about consumer shopping habits aimed at
retailers, said it all probably comes down to women generally being more
experienced and comfortable with shopping.

"Men like shopping, provided they're going out to buy a Lear jet or a
Porche or a computer or something, a toy for a boy," he said.  "But when
actually forced to do domestic shopping, that's then they become very
stressed out and very fed up."

Dr. Mark Copley, a psychologist at St. George's Hospital Medical School
in London, said Lewis' research generally makes sense.  It is especially
notable, he said, because women have higher stress levels than men to
begin with.

"It sounds intuitively like men don't like shopping anyway and would
find it stressful," he said.

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