Shopping dates back to settled communities where people were finally able to produce more than they needed and had a surplus which they bartered or sold. The more complex and advanced settled communities became, the more the variety on the market. Initially, the purpose of shopping was supplying a basic need. However, this has changed in the modern capitalist society: nowadays shopping is not only a necessary activity but also a pleasure or a pastime.
The basic reason why shopping has metamorphosed into a pastime is modern capitalism and the free market economy. In order for the economy to grow, consumers are required to consume ever more quantities of goods, which means they have to be persuaded to buy what they may feel, at first sight, they don’t need. This philosophy ushered in the advertising sector to do the brainwashing. Needless to say, they were extremely effective and the concept of keeping up with the Jones’ was born. Although some would claim that they are impervious to the effects of advertising, they are seriously deluded. Modern advertising makes use of every trick in the book to achieve success. In short, it is impossible, in the modern world, to state that shopping is not only a daily chore; it is a pleasure, a status symbol and a pastime.
Shopping having established itself as a free time activity on a par with a visit to the cinema, a restaurant or a café, the term ‘window shopping’ was born with people setting off on an afternoon’s entertainment involving wandering around the shopping district or malls and buying what takes their fancy. Shops exploit this new trend by incorporating cafes and restaurants in their shops thereby adding fuel to the fire. The obvious conclusion to be drawn from all this is that although people still shop for basic requirements, they also shop for pleasure. They may claim that they are only going to look and not buy but this only proves that shopping is seen as a leisure activity; whether they end up actually buying something is beside the point.
To sum up, the main purpose of shopping used to be supplying basic needs but nowadays it is no longer the sole purpose; entertainment has also entered the picture. This trend has been made possible by the free market economy and the development of modern capitalism and the fact that people have money to burn. Buying ever more goods and then exchanging them for others is the mantra of the modern world.