Difference between ‘shop’ and ‘store’

The Atlantic City Boardwalk along the New Jersey beach with casinos, retail stores, restaurants, and amusements

The terms ‘shop’ and ‘store’ refer to places that offer goods and merchandise for sale. These words are frequently used interchangeably because of how similar they sound.

According to many people the term ‘shop’ is used to refer to a small place that sells products and merchandise at a competitive price. While, the term ‘store’ is usually reserved for larger establishments, big stores such as a department stores that may hold multiple shops and offer a wide variety of products.

In British English, a building or part of a building where goods are sold is usually called a ‘shop’. Moreover, very large shops are sometimes called ‘stores’.

In American English, many selling places are usually called a ‘store’, and ‘shop’ implies a small place, usually run by a single person and focused on a particular kind of specialty product or service.

The Free Dictionary defines ‘shop’ as:
• A small retail store or a specialty department in a large store.
• An atelier; a studio.
• A place for manufacturing or repairing goods or machinery.
• A commercial or industrial establishment: a printing shop.
• A business establishment; an office or a center of activity.
• A home workshop.

‘Store’ is defined as:
• A place where merchandise is offered for sale; a shop.
• A stock or supply reserved for future use: a squirrel’s store of acorns.
• Stores supplies, especially of food, clothing, or arms.
• A place where commodities are kept; a warehouse or storehouse.
• A great quantity or number; an abundance.

The difference between the two terms changes depending on the individual and the geographical location of English users. The term ‘shop’ is more common in British English whereas ‘store’ more common in American English. Nevertheless, the lines between a ‘shop’ and ‘store’ are often blurred by English users to the point that there is no clear-cut distinction. These words are used synonymously by many people.

Photo: The Atlantic City Boardwalk along the New Jersey beach with casinos, retail stores, restaurants, and amusements. It is America’s first and longest boardwalk (8 km long) dating way back to 1870.