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File:Israel 7 011Market with palestinensic woman , Jerusalem 2005.jpg

A market in Jerusalem

Shopping is an aspect of consumer behavior and is the examining of goods or services from retailers with the intent to purchase at that time. Shopping is an activity of selection and/or purchase. In some contexts it is considered a leisure activity as well as an economic one.

The shopper


Florida woman shopping at a Mall, as a member of a "shoptilyoudrop" club

To many, shopping is considered a recreational and diversional activity in which one visits a variety of stores with a premeditated intent to purchase a product

"Window shopping" is an activity that shoppers engage in by browsing shops with no intent to purchase, possibly just to pass the time between other activities, or to plan a later purchase.

To some, shopping is a task of inconvenience and vexation. Shoppers sometimes go though great lengths to wait in long lines to buy popular products as typically observed with early adopter shoppers and holiday shoppers.

More recently compulsive shopping is recognised as an addiction. Also referred as shopping addiction, "shopaholism" or formally oniomania, these shoppers have an impulsive uncontrollable urge to shop. The term "retail therapy" is used in a less serious context.

In the last years in the United States there are private clubs that promote the so called "Shoptilyoudrop" fever during holiday seasons (like Christmas), even with competences between members. These clubs argue that the competences are good for relaxation from work stress. Indeed, the American TV promoted a Shop 'til You Drop series in the 1990s.

Shopping venues

Shopping hubs

A larger commercial zone can be found in many cities, downtowns or Arab city souks. Shopping hubs, or shopping centers, are collection of stores; that is a grouping of several businesses.

File:Window shopping at Eaton's.jpg

Window shopping in Toronto in 1937

Typical examples include shopping malls, town squares, flea markets and bazaars.


Stores are divided into multiple categories of stores which sell a selected set of goods or services. Usually they are tiered by target demographics based on the disposable income of the shopper. They can be tiered from cheap to pricey.

Some shops sell second-hand goods. Often the public can also sell goods to such shops. In other cases, especially in the case of a nonprofit shops, the public donates goods to these shops, commonly known as thrift stores in the USA or charity shops in the UK. In give-away shops goods can be taken for free. In antique shops, the public can find goods that are older and harder to find. Sometimes people are broke and borrow money from a pawn shop using an item of value as collateral. College students are known to resell books back though college textbook bookstores. Old used items are often distributed though surplus stores.

Many shops are part of a shopping center that carry the same trademark (company name) and logo using the same branding, same presentation, and sell the same products but in different locations. The shops may be owned by one company, or there may be a franchising company that has franchising agreements with the shop owners often found in relation to restaurant chains.

Various types of retail stores that specialize in the selling of goods related to a theme include bookstores, boutiques, candy shops, liquor stores, gift shops, hardware stores, hobby stores, pet stores, pharmacys, sex shops and supermarkets.

Other stores such as big-box stores, hypermarkets, convenience stores, department stores, general stores, dollar stores sell a wider variety of products not horizontally related to each other.

History of modern shopping

Fairs and markets have a long and history that started when man felt the need to exchange goods. People would shop for goods at a weekly market in nearby towns. Then shops began to be permanently established. Shops were specialized , e.g. a bakery, a butchery, a grocer. Then supermarkets appeared.

There have been three major phases in the shopping / trading world in the last 100 years. In a way, these link up into a full circle.

1. Customers would be served by the shopkeeper, who would retrieve all the good on their shopping list. Shops would often deliver the goods to the customers' homes.

2. Customers have to select goods, retrieve them off the shelves using self service, and even pack their own goods. Customers deliver their own goods.

3. Customers select goods via the internet. The goods are delivered to their homes as in phase one.

It was 1878 in Dayton, Ohio saloon owner James Ritty was not a happy man.He suspected that members of his staff were stealing from his business by taking customer cash and pocketing it.Unfortunately, Ritty had no way of proving that pilfering was the problem.The next year he did. With the help of his brother, Ritty invented and patented the first mechanical cash register, named “ Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier ”.

The last ten years have been a wild time on the Internet, especially when it comes to online shopping. The e-commerce industry has seen rapid growth, a shake out of the market due to security concerns, and finally, a rebirth thanks to new technologies and innovative ways to shop.

Home shopping

With modern technology such as television and telephone and the Internet, users could be described as home shopping through online retail stores. Electronic commerce and business-to-consumer electronic commerce systems in combination of home mail delivery systems make this possible. Typically a consumer could make purchases through online shopping, shopping channels, mail order, etc. Sometimes peddlers and ice cream trucks pass through the neighborhoods offering services and goods. Also, neighborhood shopping takes place through various garage sales found in United States. Online shopping has completely redefined the way people make their buying decisions; they have access to a lot of information about a particular product which can be looked at and evaluated, at any given time. Online shopping allows the buyer to save the time which would have been spent traveling to the store or mall.

Shopping time


Some business have shopping hours but some are open round-the-clock. Some nations regulate the operation of businesses for religious reasons and do not allow shopping on particular days or dates.

Shopping seasons

Shopping seasons are periods where a burst of spending occurs - typically near holidays in the United States, where Christmas shopping is the biggest shopping spending season. Some famous target dates are Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Some religions regard such spending seasons against their religion and dismiss the practice. Many question the over-commercialization and the response by stores who downplay the shopping season often cited in the Christmas controversy or War on Christmas.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) also highlights the importance of back-to-school shopping for retailers which comes second behind holiday shopping, when buyers often buy clothing and school supplies for their children.[1] In 2006, Americans spend over $17 billion on their children, according to a NRF survey.[2]

Pricing and negotiation

The pricing technique used by most retailers is cost-plus pricing. This involves adding a markup amount (or percentage) to the retailers cost. Another common technique is manufacturers suggested list pricing. This simply involves charging the amount suggested by the manufacturer and usually printed on the product by the manufacturer.

In Western countries, retail prices are often so-called psychological prices or odd prices: a little less than a round number, e.g. $ 6.95. In Chinese societies, prices are generally either a round number or sometimes some lucky number. This creates price points.

Often prices are fixed and displayed on signs or labels. Alternatively, there can be price discrimination for a variety of reasons. The retailer charges higher prices to some customers and lower prices to others. For example, a customer may have to pay more if the seller determines that he or she is willing to. The retailer may conclude this due to the customer's wealth, carelessness, lack of knowledge, or eagerness to buy.

Price discrimination can lead to a bargaining situation often called haggling, a negotiation about the price. Economists see this as determining how the transaction's total surplus will be divided into consumer and producer surplus. Neither party has a clear advantage, because the threat of no sale exists, whence the surplus vanishes for both.

See also


  1. Back-to-school sales' mixed grades. CNN. URL accessed on 2008-01-27.
  2. Back-to-school sales expected to surpass $18 billion. The Examiner. URL accessed on 2008-01-27.
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