Should stores entertain bored tag-along shoppers?
While some U.S. stores have comfy chairs and couches available for tired or restless shoppers, a mall in China has installed “husband storage” pods for men who would rather play video games than shop with their wives or girlfriends.
Shanghai’s Global Harbor mall is equipped with four glass pods, each with a leather chair and gaming console to play retro video games from the nineties. The pods placed around the mall have been operating for nearly a month as part of a free trial, but users will soon be required to scan a QR code with their phones and pay a small fee for each session.
The arrival of the pods has caused a frenzy on social media in China. Many asked why husbands and boyfriends can’t visit other stores or find other ways to engage at a mall other than playing video games. Some likened the new offerings to adult daycare.
On the positive side, several men interviewed by the Chinese publication, The Paper, spoke favorably of the gaming pods. Wrote Matthew Humphries for entrepreneur.com, “If the pods get really popular I can see banks of them being installed just like in internet cafes. Then they can be networked together to allow for multiplayer gaming.”
Some women saw the pods as a path to guilt-free shopping. According to BBC, one user said that the pods “give these men an incentive to go shopping, and to pick up the bill.”
Others wondered whether the needs of those tagging along for shopping should be addressed more by shopping centers.
Writing for Newsweek, Claire Shaffer noted that an NPR report from 2006 related how some stores were catering to men with snacks and seating. Chinese malls earlier in this decade explored “husband cloakrooms” with seating, TVs and smoking sections. Ms. Shaffer felt that “husband storage” pods would work for the elderly and moms with kids as well. She wrote, “Not an entirely bad concept within a mall — everyone could use a break sometimes from the noise and chaos of capitalism.”
- China mall introduces ‘husband storage’ pods for shopping wives – BBC
- Chinese Mall Installs ‘Husband Storage’ Pods For Men Who Simply Can’t Take Spending Time With Their Wives – Newsweek
- Chinese mall introduces ‘husband pods’ for wives to leave their partners while they shop – The Telegraph
- Chinese Mall Introduces Husband Storage Pods – Entrepreneur
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a net benefit in malls and stores entertaining those who tag along with others on shopping trips? How would you address the matter?