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In the Graeco-Roman world, the market primarily served the local peasantry.Local producers, who were generally poor, would sell small surpluses from their individual farming activities, purchase minor farm equipment and also buy a few luxuries for their homes.Surrounding the market, skilled artisans, such as metal-workers and leather workers, occupied permanent premises in alleys that led to the open market-place.These artisans may have sold wares directly from their premises, but also prepared goods for sale on market days.Retail shops occur in a diverse range of types and in many different contexts – from strip shopping centres in residential streets through to large, indoor shopping malls.Shopping streets may restrict traffic to pedestrians only.Recreational shopping often involves window shopping (just looking, not buying) and browsing: it does not always result in a purchase.Most modern retailers typically make a variety of strategic level decisions including the type of store, the market to be served, the optimal product assortment, customer service, supporting services and the store's overall market positioning.

The Phoenicians, noted for their seafaring skills, plied their ships across the Mediterranean, becoming a major trading power by the 9th century BCE.

Retailing involves the process of selling consumer goods or services to customers through multiple channels of distribution to earn a profit.

Retailers satisfy demand identified through a supply chain.

Major producers such as the great estates were sufficiently attractive for merchants to call directly at their farm-gates, obviating the producers' need to attend local markets.

The very wealthy landowners managed their own distribution, which may have involved exporting and importing.

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