AskDefine | Define retail

Dictionary Definition

retail adj : selling or related to selling direct to the consumer; "retail trade"; "retail business"; "retail price" [ant: wholesale] n : the selling of goods to consumers; usually in small quantities and not for resale [ant: wholesale] adv : at a retail price; "I'll sell it to you retail only" [ant: wholesale]


1 be sold at the retail level; "These gems retail at thousands of dollars each"
2 sell on the retail market [ant: wholesale]

User Contributed Dictionary




(verb) From retaillier.


  1. The sale of goods directly to the consumer.


sale of goods directly to the consumer


  1. Of, or relating to the sale of goods directly to the customer



  1. In retail quantities, or at retail prices



  1. To sell at retail, or in small quantities directly to customers.
    • 2005, Plato, Sophist. Translation by Lesley Brown. 223d.
      a half part of this purveying is carried on within the city and is called retailing.
  2. To repeat or circulate (news or rumours) to others.



Extensive Definition

Retailing consists of the sale of goods or merchandise from a fixed location, such as a department store or kiosk, or by post, in small or individual lots for direct consumption by the purchaser. Retailing may include subordinated services, such as delivery. Purchasers may be individuals or businesses. In commerce, a retailer buys goods or products in large quantities from manufacturers or importers, either directly or through a wholesaler, and then sells smaller quantities to the end-user. Retail establishments are often called shops or stores. Retailers are at the end of the supply chain. Manufacturing marketers see the process of retailing as a necessary part of their overall distribution strategy.
Shops may be on residential streets, shopping streets with few or no houses, or in a shopping center or mall, but are mostly found in the central business district. Shopping streets may be for pedestrians only. Sometimes a shopping street has a partial or full roof to protect customers from precipitation. In the U.S., retailers often provided boardwalks in front of their stores to protect customers from the mud. Online retailing, also known as e-commerce is the latest form of non-shop retailing (cf. mail order).
Shopping generally refers to the act of buying products. Sometimes this is done to obtain necessities such as food and clothing; sometimes it is done as a recreational activity. Recreational shopping often involves window shopping (just looking, not buying) and browsing and does not always result in a purchase.

Retail pricing

The pricing technique used by most retailers is cost-plus pricing. This involves adding a markup amount (or percentage) to the retailers cost. Another common technique is suggested retail pricing. This simply involves charging the amount suggested by the manufacturer and usually printed on the product by the manufacturer.
In Western countries, retail prices are often called psychological prices or odd prices.
Often prices are fixed and displayed on signs or labels. Alternatively, there can be price discrimination for a variety of reasons, where the retailer charges higher prices to some customers and lower prices to others. For example, a customer may have to pay more if the seller determines that he or she is willing to. The retailer may conclude this due to the customer's wealth, carelessness, lack of knowledge, or eagerness to buy. Another example is the practice of discounting for youths or students. Retailers who are overstocked, or need to raise cash to renew stocks may resort to "sales", where prices are "marked down", often by advertised percentages - "50% off".
RETAL is a fixed or a stop place where goods and services are available to the reach of the customer.

Retail industry

Retail industry has brought in phenomenal changes in the whole process of production, distribution and consumption of consumer goods all over the world. In the present world most of the developed economies are using the retail industry as their vital growth instrument. At present, among all the industries of U.S.A. the retail industry holds the second place in terms of employment generation. In fact, the strength of the retail industry lies in its ability to generate large volume of employment.
Not only U.S. but also the other developed countries like the UK, Canada, France, Germany & Australia are experiencing tremendous growth in their retail sectors. Key Canadian retailers include Canadian Tire, Grand & Toy, Harry Rosen, Loblaw, Winners Merchants, Reitmans, Shoppers Drug Mart, The Hudson's Bay Company, and Sleep Country Canada. This boom in the global retail industry was in many ways accelerated by the liberalization of the retail sector.
Observing this global upward trend of retail industry, now the developing countries like India are also planning to tap the enormous potential of the retail sector. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is interested in opening shops in India. Other popular brands like Pantaloons, Big Bazar (India), and Archies (U.S.) are rapidly increasing their market share in the retail sector. According to a survey, within five years, the Indian retail industry is expected to generate 10 to 15 million jobs by direct and indirect effects. This huge employment generation can be possible because being dependent on the retail sector shares a lot of forward and backward linkages.
Emergence of a strong retail sector can contribute immensely at the economic development of any country. With a dominant retail sector, the farmers and other suppliers can sell their products directly to the major retail companies and can ensure stable profit. On the other hand, to ensure steady supply of goods, the retail companies can inject cash into the production system. This whole process can result into a more efficient production and distribution system for the economy as a whole.
Wal-Mart is the United States' and the World's largest retailer.

Retail Services

Behind the scenes at retail there is another factor at work. Coporations and independent store owners alike are always trying to get the edge on their competitors. One way to do this is to hire a merchandising solutions company to design custom store displays that will attract more customers in a certain demographic. The nation's largest retailers spend millions every year on in-store marketing programs that correspond to season and promotional changes. As products change, so will a retail landscape.


Retail comes from the French word retaillier which refers to "cutting off, clip and divide" in terms of tailoring (1365). It first was recorded as a noun with the meaning of a "sale in small quantities" in 1433 (French). Its literal meaning for retail was to "cut off, shred, paring". Like the French, the word retail in both Dutch and German (detailhandel and Einzelhandel respectively) also refer to sale of small quantities of items.

Retail types

There are three major types of retailing. The first is the market, a physical location where buyers and sellers converge. Usually this is done in town squares, sidewalks or designated streets and may involve the construction of temporary structures (market stalls). The second form is shop or store trading. Some shops use counter-service, where goods are out of reach of buyers, and must be obtained from the seller. This type of retail is common for small expensive items (e.g. jewelry) and controlled items like medicine and liquor. Self-service, where goods may be handled and examined prior to purchase, has become more common since the 20th century. A third form of retail is virtual retail, where products are ordered via mail, telephone or online without having been examined physically but instead in a catalog, on television or on a website. Sometimes this kind of retailing replicates existing retail types such as online shops or virtual marketplaces such as Amazon.
Buildings for retail have changed considerably over time. Market halls were constructed in the Middle Ages, which were essentially just covered marketplaces. The first shops in the modern sense used to deal with just one type of article, and usually adjoined the producer (baker, tailor, cobbler). In the 19th century, in France, arcades were invented, which were a street of several different shops, roofed over. Counters, each dealing with a different kind of article, were invented; it was called a department store. One of the novelties of the department store was the introduction of fixed prices, making haggling unnecessary, and browsing more enjoyable. This is commonly considered the birth of consumerism In cities, these were multi-story buildings which pioneered the escalator.
In the 1920s the first supermarket opened in the United States, heralding in a new era of retail: self-service. Around the same time the first shopping mall was constructed which incorporated elements from both the arcade and the department store. A mall consists of several department stores linked by arcades (many of whose shops are owned by the same firm under different names). The design was perfected by the Austrian architect Victor Gruen All the stores rent their space from the mall owner. By mid-century, most of these were being developed as single enclosed, climate-controlled, projects in suburban areas. The mall has had a considerable impact on the retail structure and urban development in the United States.
In addition to the enclosed malls, there are also strip malls which are 'outside' malls (in Britain they are called retail parks. These are often comprised of one or more big-box stores or superstores.
Local shops can be known as brick and mortar stores in the United States. Many shops are part of a chain: a number of similar shops with the same name selling the same products in different locations. The shops may be owned by one company, or there may be a franchising company that has franchising agreements with the shop owners (see also restaurant chain)
Some shops sell second-hand goods. In other cases, especially in the case of a nonprofit shop, the public donates goods to the shop to be sold (see also thrift store). In give-away shops goods can be taken for free.
There are also 'consignment' shops, which are where a person can place an item in a store, and if it sells the person gives the shop owner a percentage of the sale price. The advantage of selling an item this way is that the established shop gives the item exposure to more potential buyers.
The term retailer is also applied where a service provider services the needs of a large number of individuals, such as with telephone or electric power.
Retailers may use facing to create the look of a perfectly-stocked store even when it is not.

Notes and references


  • Retailing in the 21st century: current and future trends
retail in Czech: Maloobchod
retail in Danish: Detailsalg
retail in German: Einzelhandel
retail in Spanish: Minorista
retail in French: Commerce de détail
retail in Scottish Gaelic: Bùth
retail in Hebrew: קמעונאות
retail in Italian: Commercio al dettaglio
retail in Malay (macrolanguage): kedai runcit
retail in Dutch: Detailhandel
retail in Japanese: 小売
retail in Polish: Handel detaliczny
retail in Portuguese: Varejo
retail in Russian: Розничная торговля
retail in Simple English: Shop
retail in Swedish: Detaljhandel
retail in Yiddish: ריטעיל
retail in Chinese: 零售

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

battologize, be in, bestrew, bill of sale, broadcast, business, carry, circumfuse, close out, commercial, convert into cash, cut under, deal in, deal out, demand, diffract, diffuse, dispense, disperse, dispread, disseminate, distribute, diverge, dump, effect a sale, fan out, fill, give an encore, go over, go through, handle, industrial, issue, iterate, job, make a sale, market, marketing, mass market, mercantile, merchandise, merchandising, merchant, move, outlet, overscatter, oversow, overspread, pad, practice, propagate, publish, radiate, reaffirm, reassert, recapitulate, recite, recount, rehash, rehearse, reissue, reiterate, reprint, resell, restate, resume, retailing, retell, review, reword, run over, sacrifice, sale, sales, say over, say over again, scatter, sell, sell off, sell on consignment, sell out, sell over, sell retail, sell short, sell up, sell wholesale, selling, sow, sow broadcast, splay, spread, spread out, strew, sum up, summarize, tautologize, tie-in, trade, trade in, trading, traffic in, turn into money, turn over, turnover, undercut, undersell, unload, utter, wholesale, wholesaling
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