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What Is Retailing?

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What Is Retailing?
Question: What Is Retailing?
Answer: Retailing is how producers of goods and services get their products to consumers. Examples of manufactured goods include automobiles, apparel and groceries. Examples of retailers include brick-and-mortar stores, such as Best Buy or Wal-Mart, small kiosks, or online retailers, such as Amazon and eBay. Some retailers focus on home sales (such as Avon or Schwan's), while others rely on TV (such as the Shopping Network).

In 2012, retailing generated $952 billion, or 6.1% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012. Since it provides a way for products to get to consumers, retailing also supports the $904 billion wholesaling industry and parts of the $1.9 trillion manufacturing industry. (Source: BEA, "2012 GDP by Industry")

Retailing includes stores that sell: Motor Vehicles and Parts, Furniture and Home Furnishings, Electronics and Appliances, Building Materials, Food and Beverage, Health and Personal Care, Apparel and Footwear, and all other merchandise including sporting goods, books and music.

The most important time of the year in retailing is the holiday shopping season, which starts the day after Thanksgiving. Nearly 20% of retail sales occur from Black Friday through Christmas.

Retailing FAQ

Updated March 24, 2011

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