We’ve seen shopping evolve a great deal in the last century, giving way to the big box retail giants and online shopping familiar to us today.
Historically shopping was done at weekly markets, comprised of many different stalls and vendors, each specializing in a particular kind of goods. Due to the limited mobility of the time, there were typically no “luxury,” goods; nearly everything available for purchase would be from the region.
Over time the local markets gave way to individual shops, usually located in close proximity to each other in a town or city. However many of these shops kept their goods in cases and behind counters, and customers were not allowed to handle them. A great number of these stores were also run on a credit system. This of course was no problem for the upper class, but was out of reach for the lower and most of the middle class.
That all changed with dawn of the department store. As more people left rural farming occupations for more lucrative industrial jobs in the city, many of the middle class had more money to spend than ever before. The department store filled this void. Not only did they carry a wide range of goods, formerly only available from different individual shops, they also carried many luxury and novelty goods. Most stores are brightly lit and beautifully decorated, and goods are no longer kept out of a customers reach, but later put out so they can handle them. To add to the shopping experience many department stores incorporated restaurants and other attractions into their stores, furthering the notion that they were a shopping “destination.”
As consumerism only continued to grow we were introduced to the shopping mall. The concept, which took off in the middle of the 20th century, included an enclosed shopping space with several department stores and many smaller stand alone stores. The draw of the department stores benefited the smaller stores, and shoppers appreciated having so many stores in a single location.
With the growing emphasis of convenience and value we see the rise of the big box retailers. These stores offer everything from clothing to groceries, but all at a cheaper, more competitive price. To add value for customers most of the stores accept coupons, bringing in even more customers.
Coupons were first introduced in the early 19th century as a way to increase sales. Today we see coupons in many different forms. From Bed Bath and Beyond coupons in your local paper to internet coupons delivered to your inbox, which can then be scanned right form your mobile device at checkout.
And finally we see the boom in internet shopping. Customers can now browse and compare prices anytime of day, all from the convenience of their own home. With a few simple clicks we can purchase anything from furniture to books to food, all to be delivered to our front door.
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