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British Shopping Habits. Топик по английскому

The British are not very adventurous shoppers. They like reliability and buy brand-name goods wherever possible, preferably with the price clearly marked. They are not very keen on haggling over prices. It is therefore not surprising that a very high proportion of the country's shops are branches of chain stores.

Visitors from northern European countries are sometimes surprised by the shabbiness of shop-window displays, even in prosperous areas. But the British do not demand art in their shop windows. In general, they have been rather slow to take on the idea that shopping might actually be fun.

On the other hand, visitors are also sometimes struck by the variety of types of shops. Most shops are chain stores, but among those that are not, there is a lot of individuality. Independent shopowners feel no need to follow conventional ideas about what a particular shop does and doesn't sell.

The British have their own systems of measurement. Although on tins and packets of food in British shops the weight of an item is written in the kilos and grams familiar to people from the continent, most British people have little idea of what these terms mean. Everybody in Britain still shops in pounds and ounces. Therefore, many of their packets and tins also record their weight in pounds (written as "lbs") and ounces (written as "oz"). Moreover, nobody ever asks for a kilo of apples or 200 grams of cheese. If those are amounts you want, you should ask for "two pounds or so" of apples and "half a pound or less" of cheese.

Shoe and clothing sizes are also measured on different scales in Britain. The people who work in shops which sell these things usually know about continental and American sizes too, but most British people don't.

Authorities are now trying to attract more people to shops. In fact, in recent years shop opening hours have become more varied. It is now much easier than it used to be to find shops open after six. In some areas the local authorities are encouraging high-street shops to stay open very late on some evenings as a way of putting new life into their "dead" town centres.

But the most significant change in recent years has been with regard to Sundays. Large shops and supermarkets can now stay open on Sundays for six hours, and small shops are allowed to open on Sundays for as long as they like. So shopping is now something that the whole family can do together.