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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 properly.
Common Types of U.S. Stores

The following is a few of the basic types of stores you can expect to find in the United States.

The Campus Bookstore

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 of medication.

Department Stores

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

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.
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