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The idea that women are shopaholics is an old stereotype — there’s even a lipstick index, a financial indicator that uses cosmetics sales to analyze the U.S. economic outlook.

New research, however, suggests that a “bourbon barometer” may be just as good a way to measure consumer spending. It turns out that men are not only statistically just as likely to splurge as women, they actually spend more money on average when they treat themselves.

Deloitte Insights surveyed consumers in 23 countries about their spending habits, compiling a database of roughly 150,000 splurge purchases with details on what respondents bought, how much they spent and why they made the purchase.

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What the data says

  • Gender stereotypes be damned: Men are splurging just as often as women, and when they do, they’re spending almost 40% more worldwide and in the U.S. on a variety of purchases.
  • Overall, women around the world who said they splurged on themselves in the past month spent an average of $28 on their splurge, while men spent $39.
  • Millennial men are especially subscribing to the “treat yoself” way of life. Deloitte found that their median splurge was $53, which is about $20 more than their women counterparts.
  • In fact, men account for more than half (57%) of global splurges in food and drinks.

The takeaway

Deloitte’s data shows that today, splurging doesn’t always look like Cher Horowitz leaving the store with her arms stacked with shopping bags. Instead, picture a man treating himself to a steak dinner and a bottle of Maker’s Mark.

Times are hard — and everyone, regardless of gender, wants a break now and then.

"Whether it’s called the lipstick index or the bourbon barometer, one constant is that consumers generally relieve the pressures of frugality by occasionally treating themselves," the report reads.

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