Vocabulary: Shop till you drop


Study the following text, paying special attention to the words and phrases in bold letters. You are more likely to remember words if you learn them in context and in the same lexical field. You can also listen to the text.


The following people serve you in a typical shop: a shop assistant, sales assistant, sales clerk, store clerk or a salesperson – all of whom might stand behind the counter. Some shops only have over- the-counter service (I wonder what they would sell me under the counter?) However, stores usually have self-service. You simply push a trolley or a shopping cart around and choose the goods you want from the shelves. Some people are just browsing, i.e. just looking, not buying. You pay at the cash desk to the cashier, who then puts the money in the cash register or the till. A fine store has a wide selection or range of products. Brand name products may be expensive. You might want to have the goods delivered to your home. If not, remember to bring a carrier bag with you. Around Christmas you can usually find a gift-wrapping counter nearby. A gift voucher or a gift certificate makes a great present if you aren’t sure what to get for your friend. Don’t resort to shoplifting, though, because all shoplifters are prosecuted these days. Store detectives watch customers with the help of closed-circuit TV cameras.


Things cost money and they have a price that you pay for them. Sometimes they give you a reduction, e.g. yesterday’s bread might be sold at half-price. The store could have fixed prices, although usually the cash price is lower than the suggested or recommended retail price. Just look at the price tag. The bar code includes all the necessary information and can be read by a machine. The prices might be cheap, inexpensive, moderate, affordable, reasonable, expensive, outrageous or even exorbitant. Sometimes you end up paying through the nose, which is also called daylight robbery (then you know you’ve really been ripped off!). Many stores have special offers or bargains, e.g. in the bargain basement. A real bargain hunter always haggles to get a reduction or a discount. If you’re not paying in cash, you’ll have to negotiate the terms of payment. A cash purchase gives you a cash discount. Some people buy thing on credit with their credit cards. Always keep the receipt for every purchase. You could also make a down payment on the product and buy on hire purchase (HP) or by installments (= you pay a little every month). If the product is not to your satisfaction, you can complain about it and return it to the store and hope for a refund. They might let you exchange it, unless it is damaged.


A general store sells many different kinds of things, a corner shop is, well, just around the corner. A kiosk has magazines, a chain store has outlets in many places. A factory might have a retail outlet. Shopkeepers usually buy their goods wholesale. There are many shopping centres / centers around as well as (shopping) malls. A shopping arcade gives you lots of small stores under one roof. You’re not allowed to drive in a shopping precinct. Supermarkets, grocery stores or the grocer’s have all the food you’ll ever need. A department store usually has many floors with escalators taking you from department to department. A discount store or a bargain store has cheap stuff and a second-hand store or a thrift shop sells pre-owned goods. A boutique stocks fine, expensive or exclusive clothes and other items. Other kinds of stores include the greengrocer’s, the fruit store, the florist’s or the flower shop, the butcher’s or the meat shop, a delicatessen, the baker’s or a bakery, a candy store, the fishmonger’s or the fish market, the ironmonger’s or the hardware store, the jeweller’s or the goldsmith’s, the optician’s, the wine merchant’s or the off-licence or the liquor store, the tobacconist’s, the chemist’s or the pharmacy or the drug store, the health food shop and the newsagent’s or the newsstand. Off-peak shopping hours mean shorter queues or lines because fewer people go shopping at those times.


Happy hunting!