I never realized how much of American culture is intertwined with free market principals, or at least how much it has become lately. "Always look for the lowest price". "The price is the only thing that matters". I think part of it is no longer having a car here but it does seem odd to me when I buy something to just pay the price at the local shop because they are local. My normal procedure is when I need something I research what is the very best item of that type that fits my needs and price point. Then I figure out the way to get that item as cheap as possible, used, online, or through a sale at a store. (It is usually the case I figure out the best one for my needs is some obscure thing so I have to buy it online.) One of the problems that I've had here is that since I don't know the names of the shops, or the majority are smaller shops that are not online it is harder to find prices and inventory of local shops for me.
It is very true that there is much less of a shopping culture here. The concept of people shopping to the point of pathological hording is an alien concept when I tried to explain it. So I thought they would be very shrewd about what they do buy. That is not really the case. The thinking here is: "I need something, what model does the local shop offer". This carries true for food, electronics, even pubs.
This does however build up community. People get to know their local shop keepers and the variety of local shops is already something that has been hard to get used to since I never know which shop sells what when I am looking for something.
The problem is that as chain stores start to replace the local shops here people are getting the worst of both worlds. They don't get the community, and the prices aren't cheaper since no one shops around.