Shopping is one of America's favorite pastimes. Even the smallest
cities in the United States have shopping centers or "shopping
malls" that contain a wide variety of stores and services. Stores
usually open at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday. They
usually stay open until 9:00 p.m., but this can vary greatly
depending on the area. Many smaller stores close at 5:00 or 6:00
p.m. Some stores are also open on Sunday, usually from noon until
5:00 p.m. Businesses usually work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on
weekdays. Stores and businesses do not close at lunchtime as is
customary in many other countries.
Stores in the United States are generally very customer-friendly.
For example, it is usually quite easy and acceptable to return or
exchange an item after you have purchased it. If you notice that the
goods you purchased are damaged, that the clothing does not fit, or
that you have bought the wrong item, you can usually go back to the
store with the sales receipt and exchange these goods or get your
money back. Keep your sales receipt from every purchase made until
you are certain that you are content with the item or that it works
The following is a few of the basic types of stores you can expect
to find in the United States.
Almost every college and
university operates a bookstore on campus. These bookstores carry
required textbooks and supplies, a complete range of stationery
items, and items of clothing with the university's emblem printed on
them, as well as a variety of things needed or enjoyed by students.
Most textbooks are available either new or used. Used books are
considerably cheaper, but they may be damaged or marked in by the
previous owner. It is important to keep the sales receipt when you
make a purchase. If you drop the class or decide that you do not
need the book, you may return the book for a full cash refund if you
have not made marks in it and it is returned before an established
deadline. At the end of the school term, if your textbooks are in
good condition and you do not need them anymore, you can sell them
back to the bookstore for a reduced price. If you are unsure if you
should sell the book, ask the advice of the professor who taught the
class. Some books are valuable for future reference.
The supermarket, sometimes called the
"grocery store," is a large store that sells all kinds of food, as
well as a small selection of other things like pharmacy items,
hardware, kitchen utensils, houseplants, food for pets, and
sometimes even clothing. Prices in supermarkets are usually lower
than in small, independent stores. Some supermarkets carry foreign
foods, especially if they are located in an area with a large
immigrant population. Get to know your local supermarkets, compare
the prices and selection, and if you have any questions, ask the
clerk at the checkout counter.
In the United States, pharmacies are
also called "drugstores" and usually offer a large selection of
cosmetics, toiletries, stationery, and other items, as well as
medicines. You may also purchase "nonprescription" (that is, not
prescribed by a doctor) medication, such as aspirin and common cold
remedies. Only a licensed pharmacist can sell prescription
medication. Unlike in many countries, most medication in the United
States can be obtained only with a doctor's written prescription,
and it is not possible to simply ask the pharmacist for many types
Department stores have many
different sections, or departments, where you can buy clothing,
shoes, appliances, kitchen items, china, gifts, jewelry, and more.
Department stores differ in price and quality.
Discount stores are similar to
department stores but generally offer lower prices because they buy
in large quantities (sometimes older and discontinued models) and
because the stores are large, economically built, and plain. At some
discount stores, you must pay a membership fee and present your
membership card to enter. You can find "bargains" (good buys) at
discount stores if you shop with care.