|Why men hate shopping|
What I am about to say may cause severe breathing difficulties in tofu-munchers: men and women are different. Sometimes Ė when restructuring ICI, vacuuming the spare room or changing the oil in the car Ė this isnít a big deal. Other times Ė when shooting Iraqis, running 100 metres or making babies Ė it kind of matters. But there is one activity where the chasm which separates the genders makes the Grand Canyon look like something a little polyfilla could fix: Going Shopping.
A relationship may survive many things:
But if thereís one thing that sends divorce lawyers everywhere running for the nearest Mercedes dealership, itís Going Shopping Together.
Letís stop wishing this one away. We can handle the truth if we can only find the courage to face it - retail parks are from Mars, shopping malls are from Venus. Retail parks sell electronic goods, car parts and DIY stuff, shopping malls present an infinite vista of ingeniously identical shoe shops. Mr Retail Park can have blown his monthly salary on something noisy and be back home playing with it before Ms. Shopping Mall has got done fondling culottes she wouldnít be seen dead in a ditch with.
But man cannot live on the fruits of retail parks alone. Actually, thereís one kind of man who can: The Investment Banker in his late forties. In off-duty moments, he looks frankly rather comic in M&S leisurewear bought by his wife, but he hasnít set foot in a clothes shop since the 80s, and we envy him that. The rest of us, however, must either buy clothes or mug someone our size. If only to keep our streets safe therefore, we need shopping malls for men. Since existing facilities are laughably inadequate, Iíd like to give the retail industry a few pointers:
Parking: Since McDonalds gives me a free parking space if I blow 99p on a burger, Iíll be dammed If Iíll do business with anyone who tries to charge me for parking. Build the cost into your mark-ups, dammit. Let the bearded nutfudge trying to get a 16 piece dinner service home on his pedal bike subsidise my air-conditioned, polluting ways. While weíre on the subject I want the car park access roads to have at least four lanes, so I can circumnavigate the old guy in the trilby who needs to phone a friend in order to establish the position of his rear bumper relative to that concrete post. Furthermore, I want 4X4s and people carriers to have their own separate car park. Two counties over.
I do not want my car park to be identified by a colour, a letter, a number or a cute name. Itís an offence against machismo. I can find my way back to my car unaided. If, due to a sharp blow to the head or something, I am unable to do so, I will steal someone elseís car rather than admit failure.
Inside the mall: With respect to the walkways between shops, I do not require, have never required, and will not require at any time in the future:
Really, itís OK, I can do without. I just need room to walk, thatís all. For this reason, I would like the management to decree that for four hours per week, children, old people, pushchairs, wheelchairs, groups of more than two people, rectangular tartan shopping trolleys, crutches, walking sticks and indecisive people are banned. If this period happens to fall between midnight and 4am on Sundays, I will be more than happy to alter my schedule so as to take advantage of it.
I do not require a food court. I donít do shopping expeditions that require meal breaks. You do not sell anything, ANYTHING, that I want badly enough to be here that long. Give me a newsagent selling bottled water and Mars Bars. Iíll be fine.
Stores: I donít want more than six stores. I want these six stores between them to stock everything I will ever need. If they donít have clothing in my size, I want the right to eviscerate the manager with a red hot poker. Also, I want clothes I can wear this afternoon, not ones to suit the weather weíll be having in nine months time. Weíre on the same page here? Great.
Tills: Hallelujah! Iíve found something Iíd rather have than money. Iím now going to leave with it. If youíd like me to pay on my way to the door, please have your tills staffed by people who actually metabolise. I will pay by Switch, MasterCard or Visa or in cash. Shoppers who attempt a transaction involving any of the following:
should be escorted courteously to a side office and quietly beheaded.
Donít bother printing a receipt. Not needed. It will not survive the trip back to the car park. If I pay by plastic, I also do not want a second piece of paper that informs the guy who empties the bin of my credit card number. Refunds? Forget it. If your product fails so badly that I can be arsed to come back and argue the point, it wonít be to get my money back, it will be to see the offending item pass through the sales assistantís digestive system.
OK, itís safe to come out now, Iíve finished. And I really donít think that was a lot to ask for in exchange for collaring 50% of the retail market. But what about the other 50%? What about the beings with ovaries? Sorry. Canít help you there. Maybe you could try 80,000 telephone kiosk sized boutiques, each selling a single item that nobody wants at a 3% discount Ė but frankly Iím just guessing here. Good luck. Iíve a hunch that lot will be really hard to please.
Suggest your favorite shopping mall, email Nigel.