This Is Your Least Favorite Person to Shop for…

  • By Catey Hill, MarketWatch
  • November 26, 2014

holiday shopping

Holiday shopping — with its cheerful music, smiling sales staff and festive store decor — is supposed to be an utter delight. But that may all depend on who you’re shopping for.

A survey released this month by global retail real-estate company Simon found that Americans love to shop for some of the people on their lists, but not so much for others. When asked who their favorite person to shop for was during the holidays, 40 percent said children, either their own or someone else’s (far more women said this than men at 49 percent vs. 32 percent), and 24 percent said their spouse or partner was (in this case, more men (29 percent) said this than women (19 percent)).

Mikael Thygesen, the chief marketing officer for Simon, says the fact that kids took the top spot makes sense. “It’s fun to give gifts to kids,” he says. “They give you the reaction you’re looking for, and they’re good at providing a wish-list.” Giving to a spouse or partner may provide that same sort of happy reaction, he adds.

Other people don’t fare as well: Poor Dad is America’s least favorite person to shop for (just 2 percent said he’s the favorite). They’d rather shop for “someone else” than their father (that means, by the way, anyone else, and could be their boss or the salesgirl at the coffee shop). What’s more, not a single woman in the survey said her dad was her favorite person to shop for.

Thygesen says fathers may be at the bottom of the list because they’re not as good at articulating their interests and coming up with lists, making them “more difficult to buy for.” (Clearly, the ladies in particular feel this pain.) Chicago-area psychologist Nancy Molitor adds that “men’s interest in gadgets or tools or car-related stuff is often mysterious and daunting to women” and that “it’s also not fun or pleasurable for most women to shop for guy stuff like this.”

Mom fared better than dad (9 percent of Americans say she’s their favorite person to shop for, vs. 2 percent for dad), but still only slightly better than a boyfriend or girlfriend (8 percent), an extended family member (7 percent) or a friend (6 percent). Interestingly, more men (11 percent) than women (7 percent) gave their mom top billing.

The online survey, conducted by Russell Research on behalf of Simon Malls in September, had a sample size of 1,048 (the participants were 18 or older and plan to purchase gifts for one or more people during the holidays) with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.