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Shopping and Services

Shopping is an activity that is enjoyed by many people. There are also people who hate shopping and say that it is a waste of time. But whether the people like shopping or not, they have to go to a shop, more or less frequently, to buy what they need because shopping is a necessity.
In the past the buyer knew personally the man with whom he did business. In many cases the seller was also the manufacturer of the commodity. Today we do not know the man who makes our shoes, furniture; … a printed label on the article we are buying represents them. The manufacturer sells to the wholesaler, he sells to the retailer, and he sells to the consumer.

There are many kinds of shops ranging from large department stores, self-service shops and supermarkets to small specialised shops such as the grocer’s, baker’s, butcher’s, greengrocer’s, stationer’s, chemist’s, ironmonger’s (hardware shop), haberdasher’s, bookshop, footwear shop, boutique. Nowadays more and more customers prefer shopping in large department stores with self service, where everything can be found under the roof, to shopping in small specialised shops. However, some people still like shopping in small-specialised shops for their friendlier atmosphere.
At the grocer’s people can buy foodstuff including flour, sugar, salt, eggs, vegetable oil, stewed fruit, various kinds of tea and coffee, bottled beer and juice, sweets, chocolate, frozen and tinned vegetables and fruit. There are also dairy products such as milk, butter, cream, cheese and yoghurt.

At the baker’s various kinds of fresh bread, rolls, buns, pies and cakes can be bought.
The butcher sells meat including pork, beef, lamb, veal and poultry. Here we can buy smoked meat products such as ham, bacon, sausages and frankfurters. At the butcher’s people can also buy tinned and frozen meat and fish.
The people, who like to do gardening and some do-it-yourself work around the house, frequently need some hardware. They can go to the ironmonger’s to buy hammer, pliers, nails, screws, screwdriver, and other tools and materials.
At the stationer’s writing paper, envelopes, notebooks, fountain pens, ballpoint pens, pencils, crayons, glue, rubber, rulers, and compasses are kept. All the things used by school children can be bought here.

The haberdasher’s is the place where the housewives go when they need buttons, threads, needles and pins.
At the greengrocer’s and fruiterer’s we have wide selection of fruit and vegetables – ranging from products that can be grown in our climate to exotic tropical fruit. The fruit most frequently sold are apples, oranges, lemons, pears, bananas and tangerines. We need vegetables as a daily part of our diet. Vegetables often used for cooking are potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, cabbages, beans, cauliflower and cucumbers. Many people prefer shopping at the market where there is a wider choice of fruit and vegetable.

The chemist’s is a specialised shop where people can buy medicines. In America the chemist’s shop is called a drugstore and they sell many more things than the British chemist’s does. Here we buy hair-cosmetics, shower gels, skin creams, toothbrush and toothpaste. For men there are shaving accessories (such as shaving cream, razor blades) and for women beauty aids (make-up, lipstick, eyeshadows).

Boutiques sell the latest fashion. Here especially the young people have a wide choice of dresses, shirts, skirts-plain and pleated, blouses – made of cotton or silk, pullovers including the fashionable polo-neck pullovers, blue jeans, but also stockings and scarves. Some of the boutiques also offer leather goods such as leather jackets, shoes, bags and leather belts.
Many people like to go shopping to department stores. The department stores are large buildings usually several storeys high. They have many departments which offer their customers all kinds of foodstuff, clothes, shoes, toys, sporting goods, leather goods, cleaning supplies and cosmetics, china and glass, hardware goods, household appliances, books, stationary and furniture, all under one roof. Nearly all the big department stores have cafés, snack bars or restaurants where the people can relax when they are tired of shopping. The big department stores started in America and the idea war brought to England by Gordon Selfridge some 80 years ago. Selfridge´s is still one of the biggest stores in London. It is situated in the Oxford Street in the centre of the West End. Other London’s big stores are Harrods, Gamages, Mark’s and Spencer.
Some other shops we visit:
- the florist’s – flowers, wreaths, bouquets, plants
- the tailor’s – where we have our clothes made to measure
- the hatter’s – where men’s hats are sold
- the milliner’s – where woman’s hats are made
- the shoe-maker’s – where we buy shoes, boots and other foot-wear
- the watch maker’s – where clocks and watches are mended
- the jeweller’s – where jewellery is sold as well as silver and gold


Department stores are found in all big cities. They are big shops where you can find almost everything you want and which offer a wide choice of things. The most famous British department store, Harrods, started as a small grocery shop in 1849. The present store has more than 300 departments and a staff of over 4000 people. The display in the food hall is amazing. For example, there is a choice of over 500 types of cheese. Harrods is owned by the Egyptian, Mohammed Al Fayed.

Street markets are both fun and cheap. Most markets sell fruit and vegetables, clothes, things for the house, records and jewellery. In London, there are about 40 or 50 markets. Some specialise in flowers, pets or second - hand books.
Some towns are called market towns: a market is held there, usually once a week. People come from the surrounding villages to do their shopping [Camden Lock Market is in London. Traditionally it was a second - hand clothes and antique - furniture market. ]

In the centre of most towns and villages there is a main street with lots of different shops. This street is usually called the High Street. The high streets of Britain are beginning to look more and more the same. This is because they are full of branches of big chain - stores.
One of the best - known chain -stores is Mark’s & Spencer, which sells clothes and food. The company has over 700 stores world - wide and has a reputation for good quality. If you buy something that you decide you don’t like, you can take it back and get your money back.
In most high streets there is a charity shop. All the profits from the things sold go to charity. Oxfam is the best - known chain of charity shops and it sells second - hand clothes and books.

Eighty - seven per cent of British people live less than a mile from their local corner shop. A corner shop is a small shop on, or near, a street corner. Many are run by Indian or Pakistani families. Most corner shops sell food and newspapers. They are open until late in the evening, as well as on Sundays.

Many high street and corner shops are closing because people prefer to drive to a shopping complex outside town. There they can park their cars without any problems and do all their shopping in one place.
In a British shopping complex, you usually find a supermarket, a branch of most of the chain - stores, some smaller shops, a few cafés and sometimes a multi - screen cinema.
Most of the new shopping complexes are built near big roads, outside town. Here you also find “superstores.” These enormous shops sell their products more cheaply than in the high - street shops. Many of the superstores are branches of chain - stores from countries outside Britain, such as IKEA or ALDI.
In Britain many households receive daily deliveries of post, milk and newspaper, usually in time for breakfast. A milkman does a „milk round“, visiting a number of houses in an area. In towns, electrically operated „milk floats“ are used and other goods such as potatoes, eggs, fruit juice can also supplied by the milkman. There is a daily postal delivery to every house, however remote. In towns, older schoolchildren can earn pocket money by delivering newspapers (called „doing a paper round) before they go to school.
Older children and students also make money by baby-sitting. This and other services are often advertised on a display board in the window of a newsagent’s or other small shop.

Repairman, also called „odd job men“, electricians, gardeners, window cleaners, painters and decorators, plumbers, domestic cleaners (called „daily helps“) and child-minders (women who look after children during the day while the parents are at work) also often advertise their services in this way. Services are also advertised in the „classified ads“ section of local newspapers.
Many services can be ordered by telephone and a special telephone directory, the „Yellow Pages“; lists firms according to the services they provide. You can order a cooked meal to be delivered from a Chinese restaurant or a pizza restaurant. If you want to send a present to someone, you can arrange for chocolates, flowers, etc. to be delivered. Many of these delivery services use motorcycles.

Shops and offices in town centers provide services such as dry cleaning, shoe repairs, photocopying and the use of fax machines. In launderettes you can wash and dry clothes in coin-operated machines. The are estate agencies for buying and selling houses, letting agencies for finding rented accommodation and employment agencies for finding a job. Some employment agencies specialize in a particular kind of job, for example secretarial jobs.

Commercialism has a long, controversial history in the U.S. Some advertisements are cleverly designed to entertain and even shock us. Take, for example, the ad for Levi’s blue jeans using Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting in which God is giving life - and a pair of blue jeans – to the newly created Adam. Benetton has used “shock” ads such as a nun and a priest kissing, as well as portraits of prisoner sentenced to death. When images are difficult to forget, so are the products they represented.
“Jingles” are tunes created for commercials that stick in your ear and you hum the melody over and over, hopefully “hypnotizing” you into buying the products. One of the most successful in this sense are McDonald’s and Burger King, who have produced memorable tunes that keep people coming back for more.

The shops we attend every day are large self – serviced shops. When you buy (or more formally – purchase) something in a shop you usually pay for it outright or you buy on credit. Sometimes you may be offered a discount (f.e. if you buy a lot) or reduction on something. It is not usual to haggle about prices in our shops, as it is in a Turkish market). If we want to return something, which we have bought, to a shop, we may be given a refund (our money will be returned) provided you have a receipt. If we buy an electrical appliance we should ask about guarantee.


A consumer society is a society in which materials goods are very important, and in which the consumers themselves are very important and have a lot of power.
People today seem to have more possessions and more comforts than they have ever had. They have washing machines, food processors, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners etc. to help with jobs that were once done by hand, and they have stereos, televisions, videos and computer games to help them enjoy their free time. These products have become very important to people too. Everybody dreams of owning their own car and you are very unusual if you don’t have at least one television set at home.

Many people work very hard for long weeks in order to have enough money, not just to buy the food and clothes needed by their family and to pay the bills, but to be able to afford other “luxury” goods to make their life easier or more enjoyable.
In the past, people would shop more often for staple foods such as fruit, vegetables, bread and meat. They would buy these in local shops in their town or village where they lived and carry them home in bags. Other things such as newspapers and magazines, cigarettes, sweets and milk could be bought even closer to home at the nearest corner shop. Today, many families have a big freezer at home and quite a few also have a microwave. Ready prepared meals such as pizzas, pies and many other dishes which can be taken out of freezer, heated up and ready to eat just a few minutes, are becoming more popular amongst people who don’t have time to cook. There is a growing trend for people to go shopping less often and to fill their cars with enough food to last all week, or in some cases, most of the month.

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