EVER notice how ambient music in public places isn't so ambient nowadays? If you've suffered through throbbing temples while navigating a mall or needed throat lozenges after Mom's birthday dinner, you'll hear me when I say, ''I'm overstimulated, and I'm not going to take it anymore.''
Easy-listening Muzak -- where is ''The Girl From Ipanema'' when you need her? -- was once behavior modification for soothing jangled nerves in the dentist's chair, or the claustrophobia of hurtling down an elevator shaft. While dentists have graduated to DVD's, background music has mutated into a 24/7 assault on the senses. We live with an omnipresent soundtrack to our public lives. Walk into five different stores and your equilibrium is rocked by five clashing ''audio experiences.''
White noise, come back, all is forgiven. Or, if a racket is necessary, how about some New Jersey sounds: Sinatra, a Bayonne tugboat, a semi bellowing down the Turnpike.
As evil marketers commission studies on how ambient music persuades us to buy more stuff, the only more stuff I seem to crave is Advil. Maybe I'm getting old, but even my husband, John, can't stand the barrage, and he's a musician. ''Abercrombie & Fitch is like a techno club in Ibiza,'' John says, smirking. ''Makes me want to strip and order a vodka tonic.''
Certain retailers, Victoria's Secret, for example, try to project an upper-crust image by piping in classical music. I don't know about you, but I always blast Bach when wriggling into a thong.
Here's a random sampling of what you might be bombarded with on a typical day of errands. And, honestly, whatever happened to subliminal?
SUPERCUTS -- ENGLEWOOD ''Upside down you're turning me, you give your love instinctively,'' shrieks 103.5 FM-WKTU, crackling with commercials. My body sways involuntarily, though I forgot my platform shoes. ''Corporate gives us a choice of which radio stations to play,'' says the manager, Tondra Martinez, but no rap or acid rock. Of the jarring ads, she says, ''They don't want to spend the money on satellite, I guess.''
Management, however, has invested in psychology. ''They've found that with upbeat music, we cut faster,'' she says. ''With more laid-back music, we slow down.'' So, next time, don't blame a bad haircut on scissors-happy artistes. Blame it on disco.
BEST BUY -- WEST PATERSON The noise level is like that of a bowling alley trapped inside a Chuck E. Cheese. It's media convergence gone haywire: computers, PlayStations, cellphones, MP3 players, car stereos and a 3-year-old noodling on an electronic keyboard. And add to the mix Best Buy Radio, three corporate CD's produced monthly -- no oldies -- with the obscenities snipped. ''But you can't hear the music with all the TV's and stereos going,'' shrugs the manager, Tom Bergamo, ''unless you're in the middle of the store.''
No kidding. I venture toward the fridges and washing machines and strain to hear the faintest ''Paper Angels'' by Jimmy Wayne. Suddenly 20 plasma TV's explode with the trailer for ''Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.'' I merely jump 10 feet.
WHOLE FOODS -- MONTCLAIR It's 9 a.m. I'm standing by the kale, pondering organic produce, when a sleepy rendition of, ''Why Did You Have to Be a Heartbreaker?'' wafts up. Followed by: ''I can hardly wait to hold you, feel my arms around you. Don't ever go.'' More whining than 30-something. The store manager says it's DMX Satellite Radio. She typically plays Channel 20, ''Love Songs,'' or Channel 97, ''Familiar Favorites.''
How about sounds of the rain forest? That's organic. Or some granola-fed folkie from North Dakota? ''I use salsa to get the guys going at 5 a.m. when they come in, though,'' she admits. Well, she just might need something spicier to keep the customers from falling asleep in the salad. Perhaps a dollop of Enya intercut with this affirmation over the loudspeakers: ''I will grow rich enough to afford this store!''
ABERCROMBIE & FITCH/HOLLISTER -- WILLOWBROOK MALL, WAYNE Party, party, party. Abercrombie's house music must be on, dewy-eyed salesgirls explain. Corporate regulations. They never get sick of it. ''If it's not on, we're bored. At first we don't like it. By the end of the month, we get to know the songs and love it.'' Die-hard customers can tune into last month's in-store entertainment at www.abercrombie.com.
Music is even more integral at Hollister, the sister store of Abercrombie that mimics a tiki bar. Inside, young suburbanites pretending to be California surfer dudes create their own play lists from a jukebox made by Touch Tune. ''That's the Thrills playing,'' my husband lights up excitedly, punching his own buttons. ''It's post-Britpop. Fountains of Wayne, Franz Ferdinand, Jet, Air, Strokes. See, I can keep up with these kids.'' The alternative rock is more melodic, less driving than at Abercrombie. Music to kick back by and read, say, Skateboard or Thrasher or any number of magazines for sale at the register along with CD's. The loungelike armchairs and coffee tables are regularly dismantled for Hollister rock concerts staged right in the store. ''They're selling lifestyle,'' my husband says in awe as we exit. ''Clothes, music, you can even come out with a girlfriend. I'm surprised they haven't integrated a hair salon or cafe, like American Girl.''
Now there's an idea.
Drawing (Drawing by Hadi Farahani)
For other uses, see Shopping (disambiguation).
A retailer or a shop is a business that presents a selection of goods and offers to trade or sell them to customers for money or other goods. Shopping is an activity in which a customer browses the available goods or services presented by one or more retailers with the intent to purchase a suitable selection of them. In some contexts it may be considered a leisure activity as well as an economic one.
In modern days customer focus is more transferred towards online shopping; worldwide people order products from different regions and online retailers deliver their products to their homes, offices or wherever they want. The B2C (business to consumer) process has made it easy for consumers to select any product online from a retailer's website and have it delivered to the consumer relatively quickly. The consumer does not need to consume his energy by going out to the stores and saves his time and cost of travelling.
The shopping experience may vary, based on a variety of factors including how the customer is treated, convenience, the type of goods being purchased, and mood.
The shopping experience can also be influenced by other shoppers. For example, research from a field experiment found that male and female shoppers who were accidentally touched from behind by other shoppers left a store earlier than people who had not been touched and evaluated brands more negatively, resulting in the Accidental Interpersonal Touch effect.
According to a 2000 report, in the U.S. state of New York, women purchase 80% of all consumer goods and influence 80% of health-care decisions.
Further information: Retail § History
In antiquity, marketplaces and fairs were established to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. People would shop for goods at a regular market in nearby towns. However, the transient nature of stalls and stall-holders meant the consumers needed to make careful inspection of goods prior to purchase. In ancient Greece, the agora served as a marketplace where merchants kept stalls or shops to sell their goods. 
Ancient Rome utilized a similar marketplace known as the forum. Rome had two forums; the Forum Romanum and Trajan's Forum. Trajan's Market at Trajan's forum, built around 100-110CE, was a vast expanse, comprising multiple buildings with tabernae that served as retail shops, situated on four levels. The Roman forum was arguably the earliest example of a permanent retail shopfront. In the Roman world, the central market primarily served the local peasantry. Those who lived on the great estates were sufficiently attractive for merchants to call directly at their farm-gates, obviating their need to attend local markets. 
Shopping lists are known to have been used by Romans. One such list was discovered near Hadrian's wall dated back to 75–125 CE and written for a soldier.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the British engaged in minimal shopping in the early Middle Ages. Instead, they provided for their basic needs through subsistence farming practices and a system of localised personal exchanges.  However, by the late Middle Ages, consumers turned to markets for the purchase of fresh produce, meat and fish and the periodic fairs where non-perishables and luxury goods could be obtained.  Women were responsible for everyday household purchases, but most of their purchasing was of a mundane nature. For the main part, shopping was seen as a chore rather than a pleasure. 
Relatively few permanent shops were to be found outside the most populous cities. Instead customers walked into the tradesman's workshops where they discussed purchasing options directly with tradesmen.  Itinerant vendors such as costermongers, hucksters and peddlers operated alongside markets, providing the convenience of home delivery to households, and especially to geographically isolated communities. 
In the more populous European cities, a small number of shops were beginning to emerge by the 13th century. Specialist retailers such as mercers and haberdashers were known to exist in London, while grocers sold "miscellaneous small wares as well as spices and medicines." However, these shops were primitive. As late as the 16th century, London's shops were described as little more than "rude booths." 
The Medieval shopper's experience was very different from that of the contemporary shopper. Interiors were dark and shoppers had relatively few opportunities to inspect the merchandise prior to consumption. Glazed windows in retail environments, were virtually unknown during the medieval period. Goods were rarely out on display; instead retailers kept the merchandise at the rear of the store and would only bring out items on request. The service counter was virtually unknown and instead, many stores had openings onto the street from which they served customers.
'Modern' shopping for pleasure
The modern phenomenon of shopping for pleasure is closely linked to the emergence of a middle class in the 17th and 18th-century Europe. As standards of living improved in the 17th century, consumers from a broad range of social backgrounds began to purchase goods that were in excess of basic necessities. An emergent middle class or bourgeosie stimulated demand for luxury goods and began to purchase a wider range of luxury goods and imported goods, including: Indian cotton and calico; silk, tea and porcelain from China, spices from India and South-East Asia and tobacco, sugar, rum and coffee from the New World. The act of shopping came to be seen as a pleasurable pass-time or form of entertainment.
By the 17th-century, produce markets gradually gave way to shops and shopping centres; which changed the consumer's shopping experience.  The New Exchange, opened in 1609 by Robert Cecil in the Strand was one such example of a planned shopping centre. Shops started to become important as places for Londoners to meet and socialise and became popular destinations alongside the theatre. Restoration London also saw the growth of luxury buildings as advertisements for social position with speculative architects like Nicholas Barbon and Lionel Cranfield.
Much pamphleteering of the time was devoted to justifying conspicuous consumption and private vice for luxury goods for the greater public good. This then scandalous line of thought caused great controversy with the publication of Bernard Mandeville's influential work Fable of the Bees in 1714, in which he argued that a country's prosperity ultimately lay in the self-interest of the consumer.
These trends gathered momentum in the 18th century, as rising prosperity and social mobility increased the number of people with disposable income for consumption. Important shifts included the marketing of goods for individuals as opposed to items for the household, and the new status of goods as status symbols, related to changes in fashion and desired for aesthetic appeal, as opposed to just their utility. The pottery inventor and entrepreneur, Josiah Wedgewood, pioneered the use of marketing techniques to influence and manipulate the direction of the prevailing tastes. One of his preferred sales techniques was to stage expansive showcases of wares in this private residences or in a rented hall, to which he invited the upper classes.
As the 18th-century progressed, a wide variety of goods and manufactures were steadily made available for the urban middle and upper classes. This growth in consumption led to the rise of 'shopping' - a proliferation of retail shops selling particular goods and the acceptance of shopping as a cultural activity in its own right. Specific streets and districts became devoted to retail, including the Strand and Piccadilly in London.
The rise of window shopping as a recreational activity accompanied the use of glass windows in retail shop-fronts. By the late eighteenth century, grand shopping arcades began to emerge across Britain, Europe and in the Antipodes in what became known as the "arcade era."  Typically, these arcades had a roof constructed of glass to allow for natural light and to reduce the need for candles or electric lighting. Inside the arcade, individual stores were fitted with long glass exterior windows which allowed the emerging middle-classes to window shop and indulge in fantasies, even when they may not have been able to afford the high retail prices. 
Designed to attract the genteel middle class, retailers sold luxury goods at relatively high prices. However, prices were never a deterrent, as these new arcades came to be the place to shop and to be seen. Arcades offered shoppers the promise of an enclosed space away from the chaos of daily street life; a place shoppers could socialise and spend their leisure time. As thousands of glass covered arcades spread across Europe, they became grander and more ornately decorated. By the mid nineteenth century, promenading in these arcades became a popular pass-time for the emerging middle classes. 
In Europe, the Palais-Royal, which opened in 1784, became one of the earliest examples of the new style of shopping arcade, frequented by both the aristocracy and the middle classes. It developed a reputation as being a site of sophisticated conversation, revolving around the salons, cafés, and bookshops, but also became a place frequented by off-duty soldiers and was a favourite haunt of prostitutes, many of whom rented apartments in the building.  In London, one of the first to use display windows in shops was retailer, Francis Place, who experimented with this new retailing method at his tailoring establishment in Charing Cross, where he fitted the shop-front with large plate glass windows. Although this was condemned by many, he defended his practice in his memoirs, claiming that he:
- sold from the window more goods...than paid journeymen's wages and the expenses of housekeeping.
Retailers designed attractive shop fronts to entice patronage, using bright lights, advertisements and attractively arranged goods. The goods on offer were in a constant state of change, due to the frenetic change in fashions. A foreign visitor commented that London was "a world of gold and silver plate, then pearls and gems shedding their dazzling lustre, home manufactures of the most exquisite taste, an ocean of rings, watches, chains, bracelets, perfumes, ready-dresses, ribbons, lace, bonnets, and fruits from all the zones of the habitable world".
Evolution of stores: from arcades to department stores
In the second half of the 19th-century, shops transitioned from 'single-function' shops selling one type of good, to the department store where a large variety of goods were sold. As economic growth, fueled by the Industrial Revolution at the turn of the 19th-century, steadily expanded, the affluent bourgeois middle-class grew in size and wealth. This urbanized social group was the catalyst for the emergence of the retail revolution of the period.
The term, "department store," originated in America. In 19th century England, these stores were known as emporia or warehouse shops. A number of major department stores opened across the USA, Britain and Europe from the mid nineteenth century including; Harrod's of London in 1834; Kendall's in Manchester in 1836; Selfridges of London in 1909; Macy's of New York in 1858; Bloomingdale's in 1861; Sak's in 1867; J.C. Penney in 1902; Le Bon Marché of France in 1852 and Galeries Lafayette of France in 1905.
The first reliably dated department store to be established, was Harding, Howell & Co, which opened in 1796 on Pall Mall, London. This venture was described as being a public retail establishment offering a wide range of consumer goods in different departments. This pioneering shop was closed down in 1820 when the business partnership was dissolved. Department stores were established on a large scale from the 1840s and 50s, in France, the United Kingdom and the US. French retailer, Le Bon Marche, is an example of a department store that has survived into current times Originally founded in 1838 as a lace and haberdashery store, it was revamped mid-century and opened as a department store in 1852. 
Many of the early department stores were more than just a retail emporium; rather they were venues where shoppers could spend their leisure time and be entertained. Some department stores offered reading rooms, art galleries and concerts. Most department stores had tea-rooms or dining rooms and offered treatment areas where ladies could indulge in a manicure. The fashion show, which originated in the US in around 1907, became a staple feature event for many department stores and celebrity appearances were also used to great effect. Themed events featured wares from foreign shores, exposing shoppers to the exotic cultures of the Orient and Middle-East.
Further information: Retail § Retail format: types of retail outlet
A larger commercial zone can be found in many cities, more formally called a central business district, but more commonly called "downtown" in the United States, or the "high street" in Britain, and souks in Arabicspeaking areas. Shopping hubs, or shopping centers, are collections of stores; that is a grouping of several businesses in a compact geeographic area. It consists of a collection of retail, entertainment and service stores designed to serve products and services to the surrounding region.
Typical examples include shopping malls, town squares, flea markets and bazaars.
Traditionally, shopping hubs were called bazaars or marketplaces; an assortment of stalls lining streets selling a large variety of goods. The modern shopping centre is now different from its antecedents, the stores are commonly in individual buildings or compressed into one large structure (Mall).
The first modern shopping mall in the US was The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City which opened in 1922, from there the first enclosed mall was designed by Victor Gruen and opened in 1956 as Southdale Centre in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. Malls peaked in America in the 1980s-1990s when many larger malls (more than 37,000 sq m in size) were built, attracting consumers from within a 32 km radius with their luxurious department stores.
Different types of malls can be found around the world. Superregional malls are very large malls that contain at least five department stores and 300 shops. This type of mall atrracts consumers from a broad radius (up to a 160-km). A regional mall can contain at least two department stores or "anchor stores". The smaller malls are often called open-air strip centres or mini-marts and are typically attached to a grocery store or supermarket. The smaller malls are less likely to include the same features of a large mall such as an indoor concourse, but are beginning to evolve to become enclosed to comply with all weather and customer preferences.
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 secondhand goods. Often the public can also sell goods to such shops. In other cases, especially in the case of a nonprofit shop, the public donates goods to these shops, commonly known as thrift stores in the United States, charity shops in the United Kingdom, or op shops in Australia and New Zealand. 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 through college textbook bookstores. Old used items are often distributed through surplus stores.
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, pharmacies, 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.
Main article: Home shopping
Home mail delivery systems and modern technology (such as television, telephones, and the Internet), in combination with electronic commerce, allow consumers to shop from home. There are three main types of home shopping: mail or telephone ordering from catalogs; telephone ordering in response to advertisements in print and electronic media (such as periodicals, TV and radio); and online shopping. Online shopping has completely redefined the way people make their buying decisions; the Internet provides access to a lot of information about a particular product, which can be looked at, evaluated, and comparison-priced at any given time. Online shopping allows the buyer to save the time and expense, which would have been spent traveling to the store or mall. According to technology and research firm Forrester, mobile purchases or mcommerce will account for 49% of ecommerce, or $252 billion in sales, by 2020
Convenience stores are common in North America, and are often called "bodegas" in Spanish-speaking communities or "dépanneurs" in French-speaking ones. Sometimes peddlers and ice cream trucks pass through neighborhoods offering goods and services. Also, garage sales are a common form of second hand resale.
Neighbourhood shopping areas and retailers give value to a community by providing various social and community services (like a library), and a social place to meet. Neighbourhood retailing differs from other types of retailers such as destination retailers because of the difference in offered products and services, location and popularity. Neighbourhood retailers include stores such as; Food shops/marts, dairies, Pharmacies, Dry cleaners, Hairdressers/barbers, Bottle shops, Cafés and take-away shops . Destination retailers include stores such as; Gift shops, Antique shops, Pet groomers, Engravers, Tattoo parlour, Bicycle shops, Herbal dispensary clinics, Art galleries, Office Supplies and framers. The neighbourhood retailers sell essential goods and services to the residential area they are located in. There can be many groups of neighbourhood retailers in different areas of a region or city, but destination retailers are often part of shopping malls where the numbers of consumers is higher than that of a neighbourhood retail area. The destination retailers are becoming more prevalent as they can provide a community with more than the essentials, they offer an experience, and a wider scope of goods and services.
The party plan is a method of marketing products by hosting a social event, using the event to display and demonstrate the product or products to those gathered, and then to take orders for the products before the gathering ends.
Shopping frenzies are periods of time where a burst of spending occurs, typically near holidays in the United States, with Christmas shopping being the biggest shopping spending season, starting as early as October and continuing until after Christmas.
Some religions regard such spending seasons as being against their faith and dismiss the practice. Many contest the over-commercialization and the response by stores that downplay the shopping season often cited in the 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. In 2017, Americans spent over $83 bllion on back-to-school and back-to-college shopping, according to the NRF annual survey.
Seasonal shopping consists of buying the appropriate clothing for the particular season. In winter people bundle up in warm layers and coats to keep warm, while in summer people wear less clothing to stay cooler in the heat. Seasonal shopping now revolves a lot around holiday sales and buying more for less. Stores need to get rid of all of their previous seasonal clothing to make room for the new trends of the upcoming season. The end-of-season sales usually last a few weeks with prices lowering further towards the closing of the sale. During sales items can be discounted from 10% up to as much as 50%, with the biggest reduction sales occurring at the end of the season. Holiday shopping periods are extending their sales further and further with holidays such as Black Friday becoming a month-long event stretching promotions across November . These days shopping doesn't stop once the mall closes, as people have more access to stores and their sales than ever before with the help of the internet and apps. Today many people research their purchases online to find the cheapest and best deal with one third of all shopping searches on Google happen between 10:00 pm and 4:00 am. Shoppers are now spending more time consulting different sources before making a final purchasing decision. Shoppers once used an average of five sources for information before making a purchase, but numbers have risen to as high as 12 sources in 2014.
Pricing and negotiation
Further information: Pricing and Pricing strategies
Historically, prices were established through a system of barter or negotiation. The first retailer to adopt fixed prices is thought to be the retailers operating out of the Palais-Royal complex in the 18th-century. These retailers adopted a system of high price maintenance in order to cultivate images of luxury. For their upper class clientele, fixed prices spared them from hassle of bartering. 
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 retail settings psychological pricing or odd-number pricing are both widely used. Psychological pricing which refers to a range of tactics, designed to have a positive psychological impact. For example, price tags using the terminal digit "9", ($9.99, $19.99 or $199.99) can be used to signal price points and bring an item in at just under the consumer's reservation price.  However, in Chinese societies, prices are generally either a round number or sometimes some lucky number. This creates price points.
In a fixed-price system, consumers may still use bargaining or haggling; a negotiation about the price. Economists see this as determining how the transaction's total economic surplus will be divided between consumers and producers. Neither party has a clear advantage because the threat of no sale exists, in which case the surplus would vanish for both.
When shopping online, it can be more difficult to negotiate price given that you are not directly interacting with a sales person. Some consumers use Price comparison services to locate the best price and/or to make a decision about who or where to buy from to save money.
See also: Display window and Storefront
"Window shopping" is a term referring to the browsing of goods by a consumer with or without the intent to purchase. Window shopping is often practised by a particular segment, known as the recreation-conscious or hedonistic shopper. 'Recreational shopping is characterised by the consumer’s engagement in the purchase process, and these are consumers who see the act of shopping as a form of enjoyment. Other consumers use window shopping as part of their planning activity for a later purchase.
Showrooming, the practice of examining merchandise in a traditional brick and mortar retail store without purchasing it, but then shopping online to find a lower price for the same item, has become an increasingly prevalent problem for traditional retailers as a result of online competitors, so much so that some have begun to take measures to combat it.
In countries like Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany the high levels of utility cycling also includes shopping trips e.g. 9% of all shopping trips in Germany are by bicycle.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shopping.|
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