BY Joe McNealy
A market, or marketplace, is a location where people regularly gather for the purchase and sale of provisions, livestock, and other goods. In different parts of the world, a marketplace may be described as a souk (from the Arabic), bazaar (from the Persian), a fixed mercado (Spanish), or itinerant tianguis (Mexico), or palengke (Philippines). Some markets operate daily and are said to be permanent markets while others are held once a week or on less frequent specified days such as festival days and are said to be periodic markets. The form that a market adopts depends on its locality’s population, culture, ambient and geographic conditions.
The term market covers many types of trading, as market squares, market halls and food halls, and their different varieties. Due to this, marketplaces can be situated both outdoors and indoors.
Markets have existed for as long as humans have engaged in trade. The earliest bazaars are believed to have originated in Persia, from where they spread to the rest of the Middle East and Europe. Documentary sources suggest that zoning policies confined trading to parts of cities from around 3,000 BCE, creating the conditions necessary for the emergence of a bazaar. Middle Eastern bazaars were typically long strips with stalls on either side and a covered roof designed to protect traders and purchasers from the fierce sun. In Europe, informal, unregulated markets gradually made way for a system of formal, chartered markets from the 12th century. Throughout the Medieval period, increased regulation of marketplace practices, especially weights and measures, gave consumers confidence in the quality of market goods and the fairness of prices. Around the globe, markets have evolved in different ways depending on local ambient conditions, especially weather, tradition and culture. In the Middle East, markets tend to be covered, to protect traders and shoppers from the sun. In milder climates, markets are often open air. In Asia, a system of morning markets trading in fresh produce and night markets trading in non-perishables is common.
Today, markets can also be accessed electronically or on the internet through e-commerce platforms.
In many countries, shopping at a local market is a standard feature of daily life. Given the market’s role in ensuring food supply for a population, markets are often highly regulated by a central authority. In many places, designated marketplaces have become listed sites of historic and architectural significance and represent part of a town or nation’s cultural assets. For these reasons, they are often popular tourist destinations.