Shopping Time and Leisure Time: Some Preliminary Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Time-Budget Expenditures

Douglass K. Hawes, University of Wyoming
Sigmund Gronmo, Norwegian Fund for Market and Distribution Research
Johan Arndt, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration
ABSTRACT - The findings reported herein represent an attempt to consumers' use of time for shopping, and the impact of shopping time on other categories of time expenditure. The results showed great similarity in the time spent on shopping in Norway and in the United States, but wide differences in the use of time for other activities.
[ to cite ]:
Douglass K. Hawes, Sigmund Gronmo, and Johan Arndt (1978) ,"Shopping Time and Leisure Time: Some Preliminary Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Time-Budget Expenditures", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 05, eds. Kent Hunt, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 151-159.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 1978      Pages 151-159

SHOPPING TIME AND LEISURE TIME: SOME PRELIMINARY CROSS-CULTURAL COMPARISONS OF TIME-BUDGET EXPENDITURES

Douglass K. Hawes, University of Wyoming

Sigmund Gronmo, Norwegian Fund for Market and Distribution Research

Johan Arndt, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration

ABSTRACT -

The findings reported herein represent an attempt to consumers' use of time for shopping, and the impact of shopping time on other categories of time expenditure. The results showed great similarity in the time spent on shopping in Norway and in the United States, but wide differences in the use of time for other activities.

INTRODUCTION

Two papers presented at the 1976 Association for Consumer Research Annual Conference dealt with the topic of time budgets in consumer behavior (Arndt and Gr°nmo, 1977; Hawes, 1977). As pointed out in both of these papers, the subject of time budgets and their impact on consumption behavior has been an underresearched area (Jacoby, et al., 1976; Arndt, 1976). It is undeniable that time underlies all human activities--in one way or another, the clock dominates behavior. While a person may add to his money budget and, at least in the short run, his energy budget, one's time budget is immutably fixed at 168 hours per week.

This brief research report builds upon the two aforementioned 1976 ACR papers and presents a comparison of selected time budget expenditures in two countries--Norway and the United States. One does not have to read very deeply into the consumer/buyer behavior literature to realize the paucity of cross-cultural comparative consumer behavior studies.

A growing interest in this type of study can, however, be identified (Plummer, 1977). Without the knowledge of consumer behavior in different cultures it is difficult to develop general theories of this behavior. The lack of knowledge in this area has led to inefficiencies in resource allocations as well as socio-political conflicts. These effects have been strengthened by the growth in the operations of multinational corporations in various parts of the world (Sheth & Sethi, 1973). Neither the concept of the "universality of cultural traits" nor the concept of the "distinctiveness of each culture" seems to be a satisfactory approach in the study of consumer behavior. In this area, the question rather is: what is universal and what is distinct? It is on this basis that this paper hopes to make a contribution.

BACKGROUND

The reader is referred to the papers by Arndt and Gr°nmo (1977) and Hawes (1977) for a detailed discussion of the earlier research streams which led to those two papers. Briefly, Arndt and Gr°nmo posit a "time expenditure approach to consumer behavior...viewing consumer behavior as a household management area in which members of the household interact and allocate tasks to maximize satisfaction of the input of the scarce resource time (or its equivalent money)" (p. 230). They develop a theoretical paradigm which positions the variable "Orientation to Shopping" "as a hypothetical construct intervening between 'Time Spent on Shopping' and a set of antecedent variables believed to be correlates of 'Orientation to Shopping'" (p. 230). The authors go on to suggest that certain activities are less amenable to contraction or expansion in time consumption than other activities, given an autonomous change in another activity, such as shopping. The authors then investigate the accuracy of the model using Norwegian data, including time expenditure elasticity for those with "long" shopping time versus those with "short" shopping time.

Hawes focused on leisure-time (truly, discretionary time) expenditures and presented American data on nine categories of leisure-time pursuits cross-classified by demographics. His approach was more descriptive, atheoretical, and applied, and approached the usage of time from a demographics-based market segmentation perspective. He then presented some data on male and female respondents' inclinations about what they would do with a) an extra two hours in the day, and b) with a three-day weekend every week.

While leisure-time patterns have been used as a basis for measuring life style, shopping-time has been considered as an important dimension of shopping behavior. For several reasons we may expect that a relationship between these two variables exists:

- Shopping may influence the duration of lei-sure-time. For instance, purchase of goods may be a means to reduce the time spent on housework. Besides, the amount of time spent on shopping affects the amount of time available for leisure. Conversely, the amount of time available for shopping may be affected by variations in leisure-time.

- Shopping may influence the "content" of leisure-time. How the leisure-time is used, depends to some degree on consumption and purchase of goods.

- On the other hand, shopping may be influenced by the "content" of leisure-time. For instance, TV-watching and newspaper reading may stimulate shopping because of the advertisements in the media.

- Some people find a leisure component in shopping, which may be perceived as recreation, entertainment or a socializing activity.

FOCUS OF THIS PAPER

Given a) the findings of these two aforementioned papers, b) the potential of cross-cultural comparative research in aiding in the development of comprehensive explanatory models of consumer choice behavior (Arndt, 1976), and c) the approximate, but feasible, comparability of the two data bases involved--it was decided to examine the differences in various categories of time expenditures for Americans spending "long" or "short" amounts of time shopping, and the expenditures of time by Norwegians for various leisure-time pursuits. Therefore, the following two research questions are addressed in this paper:

1. How does the time spent by Norwegians on shopping and on selected leisure-time pursuits compare with the time spent by Americans on the same categories of activities when both sets of respondents are segregated by the same or similar demographic categories?

2. How does the time spent by Americans on selected leisure-time activities vary with time spent shopping in comparison with Norwegians? "Short" shopping time is defined as less than or equal to 30 minutes per day (3.5 hours per week); "long" shopping time is defined as more than 30 minutes per day for both data bases.

In both life style and shopping behavior we find variations between groups and nations. One purpose of this analysis, then, is to study the relationship between leisure-time patterns and shopping-time in various social (demographic) groups in the USA and in Norway.

DATA BASES

The source of the Norwegian data is the Time Budget Survey conducted by the Norwegian Central Bureau of Statistics in 1971-72. The design of the survey and other findings are presented in Statistisk Sentralbyra (1974, 1975b) and Gr°nmo (1976). A total of 3,040 persons completed a time usage diary and participated in before-and-after interviews. This figure represents a response rate of 58 percent. Only the married persons in the Norwegian sample are included in the following analysis. This is done in order to maximize the comparability between the Norwegian and the American data. Further details on the methodology are outlined in Arndt and Gr°nmo (1977).

The source of the American data was a nationwide sample of 1000 households participating in Market Facts Inc. (Chicago) Consumer Mail Panel. Two thousand identical, 20-page, color-coded questionnaires were sent out to these households in the summer of 1973, so that both the male and female head-of-household could independently respond. There were a total of 1115 usable responses, or a response rate of 56 percent. Further details on this methodology are presented in Hawes (1977).

Both surveys collected demographic data including respondent's age, education, total annual household income, occupation (males) or employment status (females), household size, and population density/degree of urbanization. The number of hours the respondent spent at work each week was also determined.

RESULTS

Based upon the respondents in the Norwegian and the American surveys, some interesting similarities and differences appear, reflecting differences in overall life-style between the two countries. Investigation is continuing into the social and cultural bases for these similarities and differences. The following discussion will focus on some of the more interesting similarities and differences.

Female Respondents

Tables 1 and 2 contrast the time spent on shopping and on various leisure-time pursuits by Norwegian and American women. The first similarity of note is the approximately equal amount of time spent shopping by females in both countries. The same basic patterns hold across the demographic variable categories in both countries with, for example, the greatest amount of time in the respective category being spent by women aged 35-44, those who are full-time homemakers, and those who are better educated. There is a statistically significant drop in hours spent shopping by Norwegian woman in rural areas (versus central city areas), and among those who work 45 hours per week or more (versus 29 hours per week or less), that does not show up in the American data. ["Significant" refers to differences significant at the .05 level or greater (two-tailed) in the Norwegian data, and .1 level or greater in the American data. The differences in sample size suggest the differences in cutoff level of significance. In many cases, the level of significance far exceeded the .05/.1 level.] This is probably a function of differences in geography, transportation, retailing dispersion and work/living locations between the two countries.

Overall, Norwegian woman spend from one-half to about three-quarters as much time playing with their children as do American women. The differences are very great when examined in relation to the hours per week spent at work. In the extreme categories of this variable, American woman devote from four to almost thirteen times as much time to their children than do Norwegian women. Interestingly, while there is a significant drop with increasing income in the number of hours spent with children by American woman, just the reverse pattern holds in Norway.

With the exception of those in the lowest income category and retirees, Norwegian women spend about half as much time reading newspapers and magazines as do American women. In these two particular categories, respondents in both surveys spent about the same amount of time on this activity. As one might expect, in both countries the greatest amount of time (in the demographic category) spent reading newspapers and magazines is in the smallest family size (2), and among those working the fewest hours per week in their job.

Norwegian women watch approximately one-third to one-half as much television as American women. Interestingly, while television viewing among the American respondents peaks in the under-25 age category and declines through the 35-44 category, in Norway, viewing increases with age and peaks in the 55-and-over category. These differences may be explained by variations in the number of TV-programs available. While Americans can choose among several programs all day, Norwegians have no such choice between parallel programs. Furthermore, in Norway TV-programs are transmitted during only part of the day. In both countries, viewing is least (across education levels) among those with a college education, declines with increasing family size, and shows no significant difference between the two extreme categories of hours per week spent at work.

Norwegian woman spend approximately one-fifth to one-half as many hours per week on hobbies, games and crafts as do American woman. There is a much greater decline in these activities with increasing income in Norway than in the United States. In both samples, the greatest amount of time is spent by those in the oldest age category, and increasing education is associated with a decrease in the amount of time spent on these activities. Interestingly, participation in these activities reaches a minima around 35-40 hours per week of employment and increases on both sides of this range. There appears to be a phenomenon, more apparent in the United States data, that women who work long hours also find time for a number of other activities. Whether these women are merely "hyper," have great energy and involvement, or are basically "workaholics" cannot be determined from the small sample involved.

Norwegian women spend a great deal more time (two to three times as much) visiting friends or relatives than do American women. In both countries, visiting is highest in the youngest age category and least among college graduates, and is little affected by the hours per week spent at work. In the United States sample, visiting dropped significantly between families with one child and those with three or more; in Norway, family size had no significant affect.

TABLE 1

HOURS PER WEEK SPENT IN SELECTED TIME BUDGET CATEGORIES BY DEMOGRAPHICS--FEMALES--NORWEGIAN SAMPLE

It is in the area of sports and athletics that the greatest differences between the two countries emerge: very simply, Norwegians are "doers" and Americans are spectators. Norwegian women spend from two to four times as much time participating in sports or athletics than American women. While the American women spend only .6 to 1.1 hours per week as a spectator, this figure represents three to five times as much time as the expenditures of Norwegian women. While the data from both countries shows the same basic age-participation pattern, there is a much greater proportional increase in participation among Norwegian women with a college degree over those with only high school degrees than is the case in the United States. In both countries, participation is not significantly affected by family size or total household income.

Women in the United States sample indicated that they spend much more time in non-sports-related entertainment outside the home--from three to more than seven times as much--than their Norwegian counterparts. In both countries, it is the youngest, best educated, highest income women who go out the most in comparison with those in the other categories of these demographic variables. Larger families do not deter women from going out in either country. Again, American women who work long hours are much more likely than their Norwegian counterparts to find time for this type of leisure-time activity.

Male Respondents

By and large, it is evident from Tables 3 and 4 that the same patterns hold in comparing the time expenditures of Norwegian and American males as was found in comparing females from the two countries. Although Norwegian men spend slightly more time per week shopping than their American counterparts, the absolute values are very similar. There is some indication that college educated Norwegian men spend disproportionately more time shopping than American college educated men. Also, time spent shopping holds up much better in Norway among those working 50 or more hours per week, than it does in the United States.

TABLE 2

HOURS PER WEEK SPENT IN SELECTED TIME BUDGET CATEGORIES BY DEMOGRAPHICS--FEMALES--UNITED STATES SAMPLE

American men spend from approximately two to five times as much time playing with their children as do Norwegian men. In examining education and income, one notes that in Norway, the greatest amount of time with children is spent by those in the highest income and education categories; in America, the most time is spent by those in low-to-moderate income groups and with a high school/some college education. In both countries, the amount of time spent playing with children does not increase significantly as more than one child enters the family. As one might expect, rural males in both countries spend the least amount of time playing with their children--probably because there is a less clear-cut distinction between working with and playing with the children.

Norwegian men, like their wives, spend about two-thirds as much time reading newspapers and magazines as their American counterparts. This holds except in the lowest income categories and among retirees, where the time spent reading is quite similar in the two countries. Across income categories, the greatest amount of time in this activity in the United States is in the highest income bracket; in Norway, it is in the lowest income bracket. There are wide differences across specific occupational categories in both countries.

TABLE 3

HOURS PER WEEK SPENT IN SELECTED TIME BUDGET CATEGORIES BY DEMOGRAPHICS--MALES--NORWEGIAN SAMPLE

Norwegian men are again similar to their wives, in that they watch about one-half to two-thirds as much television as American men. While in Norway, the least amount of time in front of the TV set is spent by those under 25; in America, both those under 25 and those over 55 spend the most time watching television. In both countries, those with a college education watch the least television, as do those with one child and those who work more than 50 hours per week. There is a significant drop in television viewing with increasing income in the United States; in Norway there is no significant difference across income categories.

Overall, American men spend from three to five times as much time on hobbies, games and crafts than do Norwegian men. There is a significant increase in this activity in the United States as one moves into the 55 and over age category; in Norway there is no significant age effect. In both countries, clerical/sales workers are relatively mere heavily into this activity than any other type of active worker, and there is a decrease in time spent on this activity with increasing family size. The hours per week spent at work also has an effect on time for hobbies, etc. in both countries. Central city residents in the United States spend significantly less time on this activity than do "urban" (suburban) residents; in Norway, there is no effect due to location of residence.

As one might expect after examining the data on Norwegian women, Norwegian men also spend from two to three times as much time visiting friends or relatives than do American men. In both countries, visitation time is greatest among those under 25 and among those in the lowest income categories. In Norway, however, there is a distinct drop among those over 55, while in America there is an increase as one moves into this age category. Hours per week spent at work has no significant effect on time spent on this activity in Norway, while it does in the United States.

TABLE 4

HOURS PER WEEK SPENT IN SELECTED TIME BUDGET CATEGORIES BY DEMOGRAPHICS--MALES--UNITED STATES SAMPLE

While both Norwegian and American men under 25 spend about the same amount of time participating in sports or athletics, by the higher ages Norwegian men are spending three to four times as much time in these pursuits than American men. Overall, Norwegian men spend about one-and one-half to two times as much time participating than do American men. This is about half the difference between Norwegian and American women implying that, relatively speaking, Norwegian women are much more athletically inclined than American women. In both countries, clerical/sales workers are among the heaviest participants, as are those with one or two children, those in central cities, and those with a work week which is not excessive.

As was noted with the women, American men spend much more time at spectator sports--from four to ten times as much--than do Norwegian men. It may be noted that in both countries clerical/sales workers are into spectator sports as well as participatory sports relatively mere heavily than other occupations.

American men spend from five to seven times as much time in "other" entertainment outside the home than do Norwegian men. This difference is consistent with the differences in time spent on entertainment between American and Norwegian women.

Differences in Life Style and Similarity in Shopping Time

In our comments, males and females have been treated separately. The main reason for this is the traditional spousal role differentiation, which is found in both cultures and most demographic categories. Mainly because of the differences in employment status and time spent at work, the total amount of time spent on all activities in Tables 1-4 is smaller for males than females. In particular, married women spend more time shopping and playing with their children than do married men.

TABLE 5

RELATIONS BETWEEN MEAN TIME SPENT ON SHOPPING AND MEAN TIME SPENT ON OTHER ACTIVITIES--NORWEGIAN SAMPLE

At the same time, however, our analysis indicates very clearly some cross-cultural differences in use of time, which are reflected for both women and men as well as in most of the other demographic categories. Compared to Norwegians, Americans spend more time playing with their children, reading newspapers and magazines, watching TV, engaging in hobbies, games and crafts, and attending sporting events and entertainment. Americans spend less time than Norwegians visiting with friends or relatives, and participating in sports or athletics.

Despite these variations in leisure-time patterns, indicating different life styles, there is a remarkable similarity between the two countries in shopping time. Our second research question focuses upon the relationship between shopping time and time spent on other activities within each country.

Relations Between Shopping Time and Time Spent on Other Activities

Tables 5 and 6 present the mean times spent on sixteen time budget categories by those who spend less than/more than 30 minutes per day. This time break corresponds to Arndt and Gr°nmo's (1977) "short shopping time" and" long shopping time" respectively. The 30 minute figure was based on the basic 15 minute interval into which the day was divided in the Norwegian survey for activity recording purposes. Based on structural conditions in Norway, it was felt that breaking on 15 minutes was too short and breaking on 45 or 60 minutes was too long. A sensitivity test was run on both sets of data, breaking at 15 and 45 minutes per day in the Norwegian sample and 2.5, 3.0, 4.0 and 4.5 hours per week in the American sample. The results did not differ markedly from breaking at 30 minutes per day (3.5 hours per week).

Shopping may be considered more or less a mandatory activity, and given that total available time is fixed, "increases or decreases in shopping time will affect the time available for other activities" (Arndt and Gr°nmo, 1977). On the other hand, shopping time is not necessarily the causative variable. The amount of time available for shopping can be affected by, for instance, the amount of time spent on work. Certain activities are mere elastic than others for most people and hence will show mere effect for long and short shopping times than others. Arndt and Gr°nmo (1977, p. 234) found that overall, long shopping time was negatively related to time spent at income-producing work and positively related to household work and family care, personal needs, and leisure. Both males and females were aggregated in the analysis, however, and the category "leisure activities" subsumed many different pursuits. It would be both conceptually and, hopefully, operationally useful to know how time spent on various activities varied between sexes in both countries and also on specific leisure-time pursuits.

TABLE 6

RELATIONS BETWEEN MEAN TIME SPENT ON SHOPPING AND MEAN TIME SPENT ON OTHER ACTIVITIES--UNITED STATES SAMPLE

In examining Tables 5 and 6 one sees that for both males and females in both countries, long shopping time (more than 3.5 hours per week) is significantly positively related to time spent on housework, necessary home maintenance, and lawn care, and negatively related to time spent at income producing work (and, in Norway, other work related activity). In the United States, long shopping time is significantly positively related, for both males and females, to time spent on personal care, reading newspapers and magazines, watching television, hobbies/games/crafts, and visiting with friends or relatives.

In Norway, long shopping time is significantly positively related among the males to time spent eating meals, on hobbies, games, and crafts, and visiting with friends or relatives, and negatively related to time spent commuting to and from work, and time spent participating in sports or athletics. For the Norwegian females, long shopping time is significantly positively related to time spent reading newspapers and magazines and entertainment outside the home (other than sporting events), and negatively related to time spent sleeping or napping, commuting to and from work, participating in sports or athletics, and "other major activities."

Finally, in the United States, long shopping time is significantly positively related among the females to time spent eating meals and time spent attending sporting events as a spectator, and negatively related to time spent commuting to and from work. For the males, long shopping time is negatively related to time spent playing with the children.

These patterns suggest that in both countries the "heavy" shopper (those who spend a long time shopping) spend less time at work and mere time at home in relatively sedentary activities (eating, reading, television viewing, hobbies, etc.), or in visiting friends or relatives either at home or away. In the United States these people also spend mere time on personal care than the "light" shoppers. In Norway, this sedentary pattern includes less time participating in sports or athletics and in "other major activities." All in all, the picture is one of a segment of the population for whom the social-psychological aspects of shopping (getting out, interacting) are important, and for whom discretionary time may be both mere abundant and mere of a burden than a blessing. The question for them is how to spend their time, not how to save it.

CONCLUSION

The results of this comparative study add further support to the theoretical paradigm proposed by Arndt and Gr°nmo (1977), namely that time spent on shopping varies between different consumer categories and directly affects the time spent on other activities. The indications are that there may well be a non-economic "Orientation to Shopping" intervening construct between antecedent or determining conditions and actual shopping behavior measured by time spent on shopping. The American data supports the earlier Norwegian findings quite well.

The importance of these findings lies in several areas. First, it is an addition to the small but growing body of comparative, cross-cultural buyer behavior knowledge. Second, it adds further credibility to the caveat that "what works here, may not work over there."

Third, it provides some reference data for evaluating how the increased wealth of Norway (due to the growth in production in the North Sea oil fields) may affect Norwegian consumption patterns. Finally, there are a number of research opportunities implicit in these results, which, basically, only scratch the surface of the similarities and differences between consumers in both countries. There is a glaring need to investigate the "why" question in all of its social and cultural ramifications.

How do these findings change anything? This is difficult to address in absolute terms. Certainly they suggest the importance of considering a time expenditure approach to buyer behavior decision processes. They also suggest that non-traditional, non-economic variables may play a more important role in buyer behavior than previously recognized. Studies of the role of time in buyer behavior have truly been few (Jacoby, et. al., 1976). It is also, of course, difficult to relate to "proprietary" cross-cultural studies filed away in corporate research departments.

Some of the actions suggested by these results have been alluded to above. Other appropriate actions include a) comparing these behavior patterns in Norway with those in other Scandinavian countries, b) analyzing the activities of retail stores designed to facilitate the latent "social" aspects of shopping, c) expanding the cross-national exchange of data. There is a wealth of state-collected secondary data waiting to be examined from the perspective of someone in a different country.

REFERENCES

Arndt, Johan. "Reflections on Research on Consumer Behavior,'' in Beverlee B. Anderson (ed.), Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 3. Cincinnati, Ohio: Association for Consumer Research, 1976, 213-221.

Arndt, Johan and Sigmund Gr°nmo. "The Time Dimension of Shopping Behavior: Some Empirical Findings," in William D. Perreault, Jr. (ed.), Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 4. Atlanta, Georgia: Association for Consumer Research, 1977, 230-235.

Gr°nmo, Sigmund. Innkj°p Og Tidsbruk: Forbrukerinnsats i Norsk Varedistribusjon. Oslo: Fondet for Markeds-Og Distribusjonsforskning, 1976.

Hawes, Douglass K. "Time Budgets and Consumer Leisure-Time Behavior," in William D. Perreault, Jr. (ed.), Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 4. Atlanta, Georgia: Association for Consumer Research, 1977, 221-229.

Jacoby, Jacob, G. J. Szybillo, and C. K. Berning. "Time and Consumer Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Overview," The Journal of Consumer Research, 2 (March, 1976), 320-339.

Plummer, Joseph T. "Consumer Focus in Cross-National Research," Journal of Advertising, 6 (Spring, 1977), 5-15.

Sheth, Jagdish N. and Prakish Sethi. Theory of Cross-Cultural Buyer Behavior. Faculty working paper, College of Commerce and Business Administration, University of Illinois, 1973.

Statistisk Sentralbyr», Tidsnyttingsunders°kelsen 1971-72. Hefte 2. Oslo: Statistisk Sentralbyr», 1974; 1975b (Hefte 1).

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