Shopping is the examining of goods or services from retailers with intent to purchase at that time. Shopping is the activity of selection and/or purchase. In some contexts it is considered a leisure activity as well as an economic one.
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 adopters shoppers and holiday shoppers.
More recently compulsive shopping has been recognised as an addiction. Also referred as shopping addiction, "shopaholism" or formally oniomania, these shoppers have an impulsive uncontrollable need to go shopping. The term "retail therapy" is used in a less serious context.
A larger commercial zone can be found in many city downtowns or Arab city souks. Shopping hubs, or shopping centers, are collection of stores that is a grouping of several businesses. Typical examples include shopping malls, town squares, flea markets, and bazaars.
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 shop, the public donates goods to the shop to be sold though thrift stores in the USA, 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 chain 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 specialise in the selling of goods related to a theme include bookstores, candy shops, liquor stores, gift shops, hardware stores, hobby stores, pet stores, pharmacys, sex shops, supermarkets.
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 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 where buyers often buy clothing and school supplies for their children. In 2006, Americans spend over $17 billion on their kids according to NRF survey.
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.