Suit you sir? Modern men spend more than women but retail therapy is still lost on them

  • British men spend more on clothes, shoes and grooming products each month compared to women
  • Men are also spending more on shopping than they do on sports tickets and drinks with friends
  • However a fifth of men (21 per cent) would still rather mow the lawn or go to the dentist (9 per cent) than go shopping
  • Leading to nearly half of British men choosing to shop online while women still prefer to shop in-store
  • Top style icons for men are Tom Cruise, David Beckham and George Clooney 

Despite common assumptions that women are the biggest shoppers, British men spend more on clothes and shoes each year than women – with nearly half (48 per cent) preferring to go online to snap up the latest trends.

New research released today by Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions and has been at the heart of British shopping for more than 50 years, has revealed that despite common assumptions, men are the biggest spenders when it comes to fashion and beauty.

The research reveals that men are spending £114 each month on clothes and shoes, equating to over £300 more each year than women. In addition, they spend more each month on clothes (£67.10) than they do on drinking with friends (£60.30) or even tickets to sports matches (£40.50).

Monthly Spend


Male (GBP)

Female (GBP)







Beauty/Grooming products



Beauty/Grooming treatments



Eating out at restaurants



Drinks with friends



Tickets to sports matches






Proving themselves to be ‘reluctant returners’, much of what men buy is likely to make it to and remain in, their wardrobes - just a quarter (26 per cent) of the returns processed by retailers are made by male shoppers compared to their female counterparts who account for 74 per cent. Given that men are also spending more than women, this indicates that male shoppers are not only more likely to keep what they buy, but are also a potentially more profitable audience for retailers.

However, despite splashing the cash each month, men dislike the process of shopping so much that over a fifth  (21 per cent) say they would prefer to mow the lawn, while nearly one in 10 would prefer to clean the toilet (9 per cent) or take a visit the dentist (9 per cent) over a trip to the shops.

The top frustrations for men when it comes to shopping were found to be: retailers not having their size in stock (42 per cent), crowded stores (36 per cent) and having to queue at the till (35 per cent) – with four in 10 men (40 per cent) saying five minutes is the longest they will wait to pay before leaving a store.

Despite two-thirds (66 per cent) of retailers believing that men need more advice and help when shopping, the majority of men (82 per cent) say that they would actually prefer to be left alone to shop.

Almost eight in ten (78 per cent) merchants have recognised the rise of men shopping online which is why almost two-fifths (37 per cent) have begun using online and social media advertising to attract male customers, and one in seven (14 per cent) are now working with bloggers and influencers to increase their online brand presence.  However, it seems that the influences for men are a little closer to home, with a third of men (32 per cent) admitting that they are more likely to be influenced by what their partner likes.

When asked how the overall shopping experience could be improved, both men and women agreed that shopping would be more enjoyable if they could buy items directly from the rack to avoid queues at the tills (20 per cent) and nearly a fifth (18 per cent) would like to be able to use virtual reality technology see if an item fitted or suited them without having to try it on.

George Allardice, Head of Strategy, Barclaycard Payment Solutions, at Barclaycard commented:

"It’s eye opening to see the tension between men spending more money on shopping and grooming, but still not enjoying the experience. Even though they spend more on shopping than having beers with friends or watching their favourite footie team, the idea of retail therapy is still lost on British men.

“We know that retailers are increasingly becoming savvy to men spending more on clothing and grooming, and so have been increasingly expanding their male offering over the past few years. However retailers need to continue to innovate to ensure the whole shopping experience is as enjoyable for men as it is for women - whether that’s online, mobile or instore. Simple changes such as ensuring a wide range of sizes are stocked and reducing queues at the tillcould lead to an increase of men shopping ‘til they drop.”

The research also identified the top ten male style icons:

Top Ten Male Style Icons





Tom Cruise



David Beckham



George Clooney



Leonardo DiCaprio



Brad Pitt



Tom Hardy



Graham Norton



Ed Sheeran



Kit Harington



Prince Harry


Josh Newis-Smith, Fashion Expert, commented:

“With Tom Cruise leading the style icon pack at 55, followed closely by David Beckham at 42 and George Clooney at 56, it seems like a fine wine, style does get better with age. Becks' sarong and double trouble couple dressing days are certainly long gone and instead a refined gentleman is before us.

“With age, being ‘stylish’ definitely overtakes ‘fashionable,' with men now thinking about their overall look rather than the insistent need to chase trends or younger modes of dressing. Aside from the a-list, men are awash with style influences wherever they turn and social media has had a heavy impact on the way men behave.

One scroll on Instagram and not only will they see outfit inspiration but they will also be served body goals aplenty. Never before have men been so image obsessed from whether they have the same abs as their gym buddy to if their hair is perfectly coiffed.

Coupled with a confidence that only age can give and the fact that more well-dressed 'worldly wise' men are monopolising mainstream media, the male consumer is exercising his spending power with a new sense of conviction.”

Notes to editors

Consumer research was conducted by Atomik Research who carried out 2,038 online interviews (13th November – 17th November 2017) with a sample of UK adults.

Merchant research was conducted by Atomik Research who carried out interviews (16th November – 20th November 2017) with a sample of 250 owners of retail businesses (in sectors including fashion and beauty).

For more information, please contact Chloe Wilkinson, Senior PR Manager, Barclaycard, on or 020 3555 4036.

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2016 we processed over £293bn in transactions globally.

Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

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