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online shopping concept

Shopping Definition and History

Shopping is the process of searching for, selecting, and purchasing products and services, especially food, apparel, and household goods.  In ancient Roman times, town centers often featured a rectangular space called a Forum.  The Forum was lined with wood-shuttered shops and a basilica that served as a place for government and public assembly.  Inside the Forum space, markets were set up periodically to sell seasonal foods and other items.  These shopping practices and customs continued into medieval times.  However, in medieval times, there were few permanent markets, but every town had a market and many sizable towns hosted annual fairs.  Craft guilds flourished during this period, and in larger towns, guild members tended to live near each other.  During the 17th and 18th centuries, shops expanded and diversified, and glass windows replaced wood shutters.  By the 19th and 20th centuries, shopping arcades, department stores, and chain stores became popular, selling mass-produced items at affordable prices.  Later in the 20th century, many supermarkets and shopping malls opened to provide consumers with convenient shopping experiences in climate-controlled environments.
An interesting biblical reference to Shopping is found in John chapter 4, verse 8 of the New Testament, which states that "his disciples had gone away into the city that they might buy provisions".  Consumer Reports offers consumer product reviews and test results that enable consumers to learn about many products from a consumer's perspective before purchasing them.  More information about the history of shopping is available on this Brief History of Shops web page.