Retailing in antiquity[ edit ] Marketplace at Trajan's Forum, the earliest known example of permanent retail shopfronts Retail markets have existed since ancient times.
Archaeological evidence for trade, probably involving barter systems, dates back more than 10, years. As civilizations grew, barter was replaced with retail trade involving coinage. These markets typically occupied a place in the town's centre. Surrounding the market, skilled artisans, such as metal-workers and leather workers, occupied permanent premises in alleys that led to the open market-place.
These artisans may have sold wares directly from their premises, but also prepared goods for sale on market days. In ancient Rome , trade took place in the forum. Rome had two forums; the Forum Romanum and Trajan's Forum. The latter was a vast expanse, comprising multiple buildings with shops on four levels.
The Roman forum was arguably the earliest example of a permanent retail shop-front. The Phoenicians imported and exported wood, textiles, glass and produce such as wine, oil, dried fruit and nuts. Their trading skills necessitated a network of colonies along the Mediterranean coast, stretching from modern day Crete through to Tangiers and onto Sardinia  The Phoenicians not only traded in tangible goods, but were also instrumental in transporting culture.
The Phoenician's extensive trade networks necessitated considerable book-keeping and correspondence. In around BCE, the Phoenicians developed a consonantal alphabet which was much easier to learn that the complex scripts used in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Phoenician traders and merchants were largely responsible for spreading their alphabet around the region. Established in , it is thought to be the oldest continuously operating covered market In the Graeco-Roman world, the market primarily served the local peasantry.
Local producers, who were generally poor, would sell small surpluses from their individual farming activities, purchase minor farm equipment and also buy a few luxuries for their homes. Major producers such as the great estates were sufficiently attractive for merchants to call directly at their farm-gates, obviating the producers' need to attend local markets. The very wealthy landowners managed their own distribution, which may have involved exporting and importing.
The nature of export markets in antiquity is well documented in ancient sources and archaeological case studies. In 13th century London, mercers and haberdashers were known to exist and grocers sold "miscellaneous small wares as well as spices and medicines" but fish and other perishables were sold through markets, costermongers, hucksters, peddlers or other type of itinerant vendor.
In Chester , a medieval covered shopping arcade represented a major innovation that attracted shoppers from many miles around. Known as " The Rows" this medieval shopping arcade is believed to be the first of its kind in Europe. A typical 17th century shop, with customers being served through an opening onto the street Medieval shops had little in common with their modern equivalent. As late as the 16th century, London's shops were described as little more than "rude booths" and their owners "bawled as loudly as the itinerants.
The shutters were designed to open so that the top portion formed a canopy while the bottom was fitted with legs so that it could serve as a shopboard. Glazed windows, which were rare during the medieval period, and did not become commonplace until the eighteenth century, meant that shop interiors were dark places. Outside the markets, goods were rarely out on display and the service counter was unknown. Shoppers had relatively few opportunities to inspect the merchandise prior to consumption.
Many stores had openings onto the street from which they served customers. Markets were held daily in the more populous towns and cities or weekly in the more sparsely populated rural districts. Markets sold fresh produce; fruit, vegetables, baked goods, meat, poultry, fish and some ready to eat foodstuffs; while fairs operated on a periodic cycle and were almost always associated with a religious festival.
Market towns dotted the medieval European landscape while itinerant vendors supplied less populated areas or hard-to-reach districts. Peddlers and other itinerant vendors operated alongside other types of retail for centuries. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is often cited as the world's oldest continuously-operating market; its construction began in The Spanish conquistadors wrote glowingly of markets in the Americas.
In the 15th century the Mexica Aztec market of Tlatelolco was the largest in all the Americas. The English monarchs awarded a charter to local Lords to create markets and fairs for a town or village. This charter would grant the lords the right to take tolls and also afford some protection from rival markets. For example, once a chartered market was granted for specific market days, a nearby rival market could not open on the same days.
Purchase decisions were based on purchase criteria such as consumers' perceptions of the range, quality, and price of goods. This informed decisions about where to make their purchases and which markets were superior. Braudel and Reynold have made a systematic study of these European market towns between the thirteenth and fifteenth century.
Their investigation shows that in regional districts markets were held once or twice a week while daily markets were common in larger cities.
Gradually over time, permanent shops with regular trading days began to supplant the periodic markets, while peddlers filled in the gaps in distribution. The physical market was characterised by transactional exchange and the economy was characterised by local trading.
Our Tables are stored with Spices, and Oils, and Wines: Our Morning's Draught comes to us from the remotest Corners of the Earth: Nature indeed furnishes us with the bare Necessaries of Life, but Traffick gives us greater Variety of what is Useful, and at the same time supplies us with every thing that is Convenient and Ornamental.
He found that there were many different types of reseller operating out of the markets. For example, in the dairy trade, cheese and butter was sold by the members of two craft guilds i. Resellers and direct sellers increased the number of sellers, thus increasing competition, to the benefit of consumers.
Direct sellers, who brought produce from the surrounding countryside, sold their wares through the central market place and priced their goods at considerably lower rates than cheesemongers. Provincial shopkeepers were active in almost every English market town. These shopkeepers sold general merchandise, much like a contemporary convenience store or a general store. For example, William Allen, a mercer in Tamworth who died in , sold spices alongside furs and fabrics. His autobiography reveals that he spent most of his time preparing products for sale at the central market, which brought an influx of customers into town.
The trappings of a modern shop, which had been entirely absent from the sixteenth and early seventeenth century store, gradually made way for store interiors and shopfronts that are more familiar to modern shoppers. Prior to the eighteenth century, the typical retail store had no counter, display cases, chairs, mirrors, changing-rooms, etc. However, the opportunity for the customer to browse merchandise, touch and feel products began to be available, with retail innovations from the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
English commentators pointed to the speed at which glazing was installed, Daniel Defoe, writing in , noted that "Never was there such painting and guildings, such sashings and looking-glasses as the shopkeepers as there is now. However, gradually retail shops introduced innovations that would allow them to separate wealthier customers from the "riff raff. This allowed the sale of goods to the common people, without encouraging them to come inside. Another solution, that came into vogue from the late sixteenth century was to invite favoured customers into a back-room of the store, where goods were permanently on display.
Yet another technique that emerged around the same time was to hold a showcase of goods in the shopkeeper's private home for the benefit of wealthier clients. Samuel Pepys, for example, writing in , describes being invited to the home of a retailer to view a wooden jack. They tended not to specialise in particular types of merchandise, often trading as general merchants, selling a diverse range of product types. These merchants were concentrated in the larger cities. They often provided high levels of credit financing for retail transactions.
A shopping arcade refers to a multiple-vendor space, operating under a covered roof. Typically, the roof was constructed of glass to allow for natural light and to reduce the need for candles or electric lighting. Some of the earliest examples of shopping arcade appeared in Paris, due its lack of pavement for pedestrians. Retailers, eager to attract window shoppers by providing a shopping environment away from the filthy streets, began to construct rudimentary arcades.
For Parisians, the location was seen as too remote and the arcade closed within two years of opening. However, prices were never a deterrent, as these new arcades came to be the place to shop and to be seen. Arcades offered shoppers the promise of an enclosed space away from the chaos that characterised the noisy, dirty streets; a warm, dry space away from the elements, and a safe-haven where people could socialise and spend their leisure time.
As thousands of glass covered arcades spread across Europe, they became grander and more ornately decorated. By the mid nineteenth century, they had become prominent centres of fashion and social life. Promenading in these arcades became a popular nineteenth century pass-time for the emerging middle classes. The Illustrated Guide to Paris of summarized the appeal of arcades in the following description: The Piccadilly entrance to the Burlington Arcade in —28, shortly after its opening "In speaking of the inner boulevards, we have made mention again and again of the arcades which open onto them.
These arcades, a recent invention of industrial luxury, are glass-roofed, marble-paneled corridors extending through whole blocks of buildings, whose owners have joined together for such enterprises. Lining both sides of these corridors, which get their light from above, are the most elegant shops, so that the arcade is a city, a world in miniature, in which customers will find everything they need. The retail outlets specialised in luxury goods such as fine jewellery, furs, paintings and furniture designed to appeal to the wealthy elite.
Retailers operating out of the Palais complex were among the first in Europe to abandon the system of bartering, and adopt fixed-prices thereby sparing their clientele the hassle of bartering. Stores were fitted with long glass exterior windows which allowed the emerging middle-classes to window shop and indulge in fantasies, even when they may not have been able to afford the high retail prices.
Thus, the Palais-Royal became one of the first examples of a new style of shopping arcade, frequented by both the aristocracy and the middle classes. Shopping arcades were the precursor to the modern shopping mall. The original Toad Lane Store, Rochdale, Manchester; one of Britain's earliest co-operative stores While the arcades were the province of the bourgeoisie, a new type of retail venture emerged to serve the needs of the working poor.
John Stuart Mill wrote about the rise of the co-operative retail store, which he witnessed first-hand in the mid-nineteenth century.
Stuart Mill locates these co-operative stores within a broader co-operative movement which was prominent in the industrial city of Manchester and in the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. The term, "department store" originated in America. In 19th century England, these stores were known as emporia or warehouse shops. Other twentieth century innovations in retailing included chain stores, mail-order , multi-level marketing pyramid selling or network marketing, c. Some department stores offered reading rooms, art galleries and concerts.
Most department stores had tea-rooms or dining rooms and offered treatment areas where ladies could indulge in a manicure. The fashion show, which originated in the US in around , became a staple feature event for many department stores and celebrity appearances were also used to great effect.
Themed events featured wares from foreign shores, exposing shoppers to the exotic cultures of the Orient and Middle-East. Pioneering merchants who contributed to modern retail marketing and management methods include: