May 9 - Traditionally, British women are the big spenders when it comes to clothes - but a new survey shows men are fast closing the gap. Hayley Platt went to Europe's biggest shopping centre to see what a new breed of 'mansumers' spend their cash on.
There's a new breed of consumer attracting the attention of retailers. And student Ben Martin is one of them. He spends almost as much as women on fashion. SOUNDBITE: Ben Martin, male shopper, saying (English): "I probably spend per month between £100-200 ..... Personally I feel that if you're looking good and you're up-to-date in the fashion trends you're more confident and giving off a good impression is always on the top of my mind." A new study by the Westfield Group, one of the world's largest shopping mall operators, shows that British men spend around £13 billion a year, almost a thousand pounds each on clothes, shoes and accessories. That's just 10 percent less than women overall and only 1 percent less than them in the 18-34 year age bracket. Two thirds of men are also likely to have a designer brand in their wardrobe. And technology plays a big part in their shopping experience, with nearly three quarters checking prices online before they buy. It's that interaction which is fuelling the trend, says Mif Ryan, Westfield's marketing director. SOUNDBITE: Mif Ryan, Director of Marketing, Westfield UK & Europe, saying (English): "I think shoppers and particularly male shoppers are a lot savvier than they have been historically and retailers are absolutely focussing on them through the inclusion of technology by having mobile optimised websites for their brands and also integrating that core customer service which makes the whole customer experience easier." Forty percent of Westfield's shoppers are men and many increasingly buy clothes for pleasure, not necessity - some shopping as often as six times a month. Debenhams' visual manager is Tom Dodkin. SOUNDBITE: Tom Dodkins, Visual Manager, Debenhams, saying (English): "We're seeing a huge uplift in menswear. Traditionally womenswear has been the forerunner and made more money as a division but menswear is certainly hot on the heels of that." The menswear market in the UK has grown by almost five percent over the last two years. But while men are now spending almost as much as women on clothes one stereotype hasn't changed. They generally decide what they want within a few minutes of entering a store - unlike most women!