Shopping has progressed from a chore to a pastime and is now considered a sport by some. From haggling in bazaars in the East to shopping in sophisticated shopping malls in the West, people enjoy the opportunities for social interaction that shopping offers and it seems to bring out the hunter streak in many people.
Finding a long-sought-after item, or haggling with the vendor to bring the price down can be very satisfying. In parts of Asia, good bargaining skills are greatly admired and it is almost unthinkable not to haggle when making a purchase, but in the West disputing the marked price in a department store would be considered unthinkable, and quite simply rude!
The times have gone when people merely bartered food and tools, and went shopping for only what they needed. These days the range and variety of goods available is astounding. People have so much choice that it's now necessary to exercise some sort of selection in the purchasing process. Many goods that were considered luxury items are now commonplace and we live in an era of consumerism.
Gone are the days of throwing nothing away in case it may prove useful later. During and after the Second World War, people recycled everything and did not have much money to spend. Nowadays though, people generally have much higher disposable incomes and consider buying luxuries that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago.
In addition to the increase of goods available, there are many more ways of shopping than before. A viable alternative to visiting your local shops is home shopping which has greatly increased in popularity. Many High Street shops produce catalogues and allow the customer to shop by mail order. Technological development in the last decade has also made online shopping more accessible to the general public and cuts out a lot of the hassle involved with the whole process.
Online shopping malls replicate concrete and glass malls without parking problems and crowds. However some people miss the personal touch and prefer to shop in person. Markets have more atmosphere and shoppers can pick up bargains. Farmers' markets have been popular in the US for a few years and are now taking off in the UK. These allow the customer to talk directly to the producer of the food about how the food is produced. Farmers' markets tend to offer more variety as supermarkets are more restricted in the produce they select for their stores. Second-hand shops or junk shops are a good place to pick up unusual and cheap goods for those on a budget.