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- Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for "Culture of
English Speaking Countries Lessons" for Xiangtan Normal University...
WESTERN CULTURE AND SOCIETY: THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA (USA) -
RETAIL (SHOPPING): The big shopping malls are
in the suburbs: There are still some department stores and downtown shopping
areas in most US cities, but the big shopping malls and discount stores are
usually located out in the suburban communities. Some of the major outlet
centers are located in the countryside miles from the nearest major city.
Department Stores: These offer good quality and
high fashion: Department stores are large establishments that offer a wide
selection of merchandise including fashion clothing, house wares,
appliances, luggage and jewelry. They normally offer good quality
merchandise, well known brands and the latest fashions, but not low quality
products at bargain prices. They frequently have seasonal sales with
attractive discounts. At such times, you can get high quality or fashion
merchandise at bargain prices. In July and August, they have end-of-summer
sales. In November, the Thanksgiving Day sale of pre-Christmas merchandise
is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. From December 26 through
mid-January, they hold big after-Christmas sales. In February, all the
winter merchandise goes on sale. In addition, they have many special
promotions and clearance sales. The big department stores are typically
parts of national chains, so you can find the same stores in many cities.
They normally have a downtown store in a major city with several branch
stores in the surrounding suburban shopping malls. Here are the names of
some well-known national department stores. Lord & Taylor, Hecht's,
Strawbridge's, Kaufman's, Filene's, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Burdine's,
Lazarus, Rich's, Nordstrom's, Sak's, Dayton-Hudson's, Marshall's and
Merchandise Stores: They offer affordable
quality. "Sears" and "JCPenny's" are two large national
chains with stores across the USA. They are similar to department stores but
they do not offer high fashion merchandise or prestige brands. Instead, they
feature good quality merchandises at affordable prices. They are
particularly known for their selection of children's clothing, home
appliances, house wares and domestic goods. Sears is famous for its
selection of tools and lawn and garden products.
These sell at low prices. Discount stores sell some good quality merchandise
at affordable prices and some lower quality merchandise at very low prices.
If you are not looking for the latest fashions, or the famous brands, or the
best quality, you can find some very inexpensive merchandise at a discount
store. Some national discount chains with stores across the US are K-Mart,
Wal-Mart, Target and Caldor.
Outlet Malls: Outlet stores or factory outlets
sell high quality merchandise with a well-known brand at discounted prices.
They usually offer merchandise with slight manufacturing flaws and
remainders from the last season or the previous year. They do not have
end-of-season sales like the department stores, as their merchandise is
always discounted 20% to 40% below department store prices. If you take
advantage of the end-of-season sales at a department store, you can
frequently get better bargains. At all other times, the outlet store is the
best buy. Outlet malls with many hundreds of top brand name outlet stores
like Levi's, Ralph Lauren, Timberland, and Pioneer can be found in most
states, and they are often a bargain hunter's wonderland.
State and Local Sales Tax:
The US government does not have a value-added tax on merchandise as
governments do in many other countries, but most states and some cities
collect a sales tax on all purchases. State taxes usually average 4% to 8%.
Some cities add an additional 2%. Remember when you purchase something for
$1.00, you may have to pay $1.08. Some states exempt all clothing and food
purchases from sales tax. If you buy something big like a car or motorcycle,
be sure to specify that it will be exported and you can usually obtain an
exemption from the sales tax.
Words of Caution: Clothing sizes in the USA are
based on measurements in inches. If you purchase any electric appliances or
electronics in the US, remember that all electrical items are normally 110v
and 60Hz. Be sure that the item is adaptable to your local electric supply.
US televisions, video recorders and cell phones use different standards than
most other countries and are incompatible.