Think You’re a Bargain Hunter? You Could Actually Be a Sport Shopper – Yahoo Health

Shopping can feel like a sport, and now researchers say it’s just that for some people. (Stocksy)

In a new study published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, scientists from San Francisco State University identified a new type of shopper: the sport shopper.

According to the research, sport shoppers view shopping like a competitive sport. They enjoy outsmarting the retail system and bargain hunt for the thrill of it — even though they can afford to pay full price. (Bargain hunters, by comparison, look for deals because they need to save.)

Like athletes approaching a competition, sport shoppers plan ahead. They’ll study the layout of a store, notice merchandising patterns, and plan a shopping trip in advance based on how much time they have.

Sport shoppers also have impressive memories when it comes to their purchases and can remember in great detail the stories behind their bargain finds. Some can even remember when they bought the item, the price they paid, and how much it normally costs.

While researchers say they’re sure there are male sport shoppers, so far their work has only found female sport shoppers.

The actual “sport shopping” classification is new, Joann Peck, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who studies consumer shopping habits, tells Yahoo Health. But she says there has always been some element of sport shopping for some people — it’s just becoming more common.

“Sport shopping has been growing,” she says. And just like with actual sports, people don’t always sport shop alone.

“In a group, this can be a bonding experience, as the ‘team members’ work together to outsmart the system, often resulting in group members becoming closer as they revel in the thrill of victory,” Peck says. “It is entertainment and competition.”

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Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, author of Decoding the Consumer Mind, tells Yahoo Health that sport shopping is “prevalent,” adding that many people have elements of sport shopping that pop up in times of stress or boredom. “Everyone wants to feel like they’re beating the system (or at the very least not being duped into paying too much), and we are increasingly bargain-brained because pricing strategies have become unpredictable and opaque to shoppers,” she says.

However, she says, some people consistently use sport shopping to boost their ego and may see their ability to score a great deal as part of their identity.

Michael Fishman, a business adviser focusing on consumer psychology and founder of the Start 1 Stop 1 online community, tells Yahoo Health that sport shopping is a “glorification and justification of the scarcity mindset, in which those people who can afford it are chasing deals because, in their experience, there is never enough money no matter how much they have.”

Fishman says this mindset can be stressful and is often instilled during childhood by parents who emphasized those values, whether the family was financially secure or not.

“My guess is that those who claim mastery at this ‘sport’ do have more shoes, more knife sets, and more of whatever it is they truly need,” Fishman says.

But why are so many sport shoppers women? Peck has a few theories.

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One is that a person’s tendency to sport shop might depend on the type of products they’re searching for. While women might be more likely to sport shop for clothes, groceries, and beauty products, men might be more likely to be sport shoppers while looking for more niche products, like hunting gear.  

The second is that sport shopping takes time, and women may simply be more interested in spending some of their free time hunting for bargains. Peck points out that traditionally women are more likely to be stay-at-home parents or work part-time compared to men (even though that’s becoming vastly less common) and may have more time to sport shop. However, she notes, the number of affluent stay-at-home moms is growing — and there may be some sport shoppers among them.

In moderation, Peck says, there’s nothing wrong with sport shopping. But it can become an issue if sport shoppers buy things they don’t need or would never buy if they didn’t get a deal.


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