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Ethnic Markets Retail Shopping Cultural Aspects

Although many in the United States are used to retail shopping, whether in malls or smaller, individual establishments, few are aware that the experience and cultural customs surrounding retail shopping in other parts of the world can be quite different. Two excellent examples that contrast sharply with the shopping culture found in the United States exist in Japan and the Arab Middle East. American shoppers are a pretty independent bunch. Except in the most exclusive or high-end retail shops (think Rodeo drive), most American shoppers prefer to be "left alone" to peruse their shopping choices in blissful privacy. Indeed, this reality is best represented in the mass- retail outlets most common in "middle-America," including the Wal-Marts, Targets, K-Marts and Costco's of the world. Here, the entire concept is independent shopping, free from the hovering "can I help you find something special'" questions that most annoy the American shopper. However, despite all of this culturally-inspired independence, the American shopper is also often left holding the bag for the "costs down" bottom line that is also characteristic of today's American retail—that is, left frustrated when he or she really does need help finding something in such an establishment's cavernous depths. In Japan, the retail shopping milieu is markedly different. Take, for instance the average "department store" shopping experience, described by writer Mike Rogers in his article, "Let's Go Department Store Shopping in Japan." In Japanese retail, service is definitely of high importance. In fact, as Rogers asserts in his article, it is so good that even the average American male shopper—representative of another American cultural reality, the overwhelming hatred of most American males of the shopping experience—will want to partake. Rogers writes, "Even now, after being here all these years, I ...

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