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Bac 2009 Series: G1-G2-H 

Consumer Goods

In Western Europe and the United States people live in what has come to be known as the consumer society.
This implies that in addition to the articles we need for mere subsistence, most of us consume a large number of items which are, strictly speaking, unnecessary, but which contribute to the comfort of modern life.
The notion of what constitutes a luxury varies from country to country and from one period of history to another. A British working class family at the beginning of the 20tn century would have regarded tinned salmon or chicken as very out of-the ordinary; today such foodstuffs are staple items in many people's diets. The modern housewife in an industrialized country regards a washing machine, an automatic dishwasher or a deep freeze as essentials, not to mention the wide range of gadgets and utensils to be found in every kitchen.
Generally speaking, the things we consume fall into three categories: perishable goods, semi-durables and durables. In the first category we include all types of food (meat, vegetables, fish, fruit, dairy produce, poultry, etc.). Under the second heading, we include articles with longer life cycle, such as clothing and footwear. A hundred years ago, only the very rich could afford a large wardrobe, nowadays most people own and regularly renew their own collection of suits, sports jackets, shirts, dresses, shoes and so on. In recent years there has been a great increase in the volume of sportswear sold either from specialist outfitters or supermarkets. In the final category we include goods such as cars, motorbikes, televisions, video recorders and other items which are supposed to last a reasonable length of time although, in fact, many people claim that they are not in fact as reliable and long-Iasting as one might wish items to be.
To buy these goods there is a wide choice of retail outlets, from the local corner shop with the friendly shopkeeper who knows his customers by name, to the supermarket or hypermarket where you go by car and load up a cart with the week's purchases:
On some industrial estates it is possible to buy at reduced prices from a cash and-carry warehouse.
Not everybody lives in a town and for those in isolated areas who do not have access to a shopping centre, there are a number of firms specialized in mail order. Goods are chosen from a catalogue and sent by post. !n order to attract the public, it is important for these firms to pay particular attention to delivery date, exchange and refund and guarantees, if they are to satisfy their customers.

English Works for Commerce by Leslie Rofe, Peter Strutt and Graham Bushnell.

Guided Commentary

1) Why are western countries known as consumer countries? (3 points)
2) What are the different categories we consume, according to the text? Enumerate them. (3 points)
3) What do we mean by durable goods? (3 points) Give three examples from the text.
4) Is it necessary for developing countries to consume what they produce and to produce what they consume? Justify your answer. (6 points)
5) Do you think that the people in industrialized countries have the same needs as those from developing countries? Justify your answer. (5 points)

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