that part of the rude produce which 
requires a good deal of preparation before it 
can be fit for use and consumption, it either 
would never he produced, because there could 
be no demand for it; or if it was produced 
spontaneously, it would be of no value in exchange
and could add nothing to the wealth 
of the society
Unless a capital was employed in transporting 
either the rude or manufactured produce 
from the places where it abounds to 
those where it is wanted, no more of either 
could be produced than was necessary for the 
consumption of the neighbourhood. The capital 
of the merchant exchanges the surplus 
produce of one place for that of another, and 
thus encourages the industry, and increases 
the enjoyments of both. 
Unless a capital was employed in breaking 
and dividing certain portions either of the 
rude or manufactured produce into such small 
parcels as suit the occasional demands of those 
who want them, every man would be obliged 
to purchase a greater quantity of the goods 
he wanted than his immediate occasions required
If there was no such trade as a 
butcher, for example, every man would be 
obliged to purchase a whole ox or a whole 
sheep at a time. This would generally be inconvenient 
to the rich, and much more so to 
the poor. If a poor workman was obliged to 
purchase a month's or six months' provisions 
at a time, a great part of the stock which he 
employs as a capital in the instruments of his 
trade, or in the furniture of his shop, and 
which yields him a revenue, he would be 
forced to place in that part of his stock which 
is reserved for immediate consumption, and 
which yields him no revenue. Nothing can be 
more convenient for such a person than to be 
able to purchase his subsistence from day to 
day, or even from hour to hour, as he wants 
it. He is thereby enabled to employ almost 
his whole stock as a capital. He is thus enabled 
to furnish work to a greater value; and 
the profit which he makes by it in this way 
much more than compensates the additional 
price which the profit of the retailer imposes 
upon the goods. The prejudices of some political 
writers against shopkeepers and tradesmen 
are altogether without foundation. So 
far is it from being necessary either to tax 
them, or to restrict their numbers, that they 
can never be multiplied so as to hurt the public, 
though they may so as to hurt one another. 
The quantity of grocery goods, for 
example, which can be sold in a particular 
town, is limited by the demand of that town 
and its neighbourhood. The capital, therefore, 
which can be employed in the grocery 
trade, cannot exceed what is sufficient to purchase 
that quantity. If this capital is divided 
between two different grocers, their competition 
will tend to make both of them sell cheaper 
than if it were in the hands of one only; 
and if it were divided among twenty, their 
competition would be just so much the greater
and the chance of their combining together, 
in order to raise the price, just so 
much the less. Their competition might, perhaps, 
ruin some of themselves; but to take 
care of this, is the business of the parties 
concerned, and it may safely be trusted to 
their discretion. It can never hurt either the 
consumer or the producer; on the contrary, 
it must tend to make the retailers both sell 
cheaper and buy dearer, than if the whole 
trade was monopolized by one or two persons. 
Some of them, perhaps, may sometimes decoy 
a weak customer to buy what he has no occasion 
for. This evil, however, is of too little 
importance to deserve the public attention, 
nor would it necessarily be prevented by restricting 
their numbers. It is not the multitude 
of alehouses, to give the most suspicious 
example, that occasions a general disposition 
to drunkenness among the common people; 
but that disposition, arising from other causes, 
necessarily gives employment to a multitude 
of alehouses
The persons whose capitals are employed 
in any of those four ways, are themselves productive 
labourers. Their labour, when properly 
directed, fixes and realizes itself in the 
subject or vendible commodity upon which 
it is bestowed, and generally adds to its price 
the value at least of their own maintenance 
and consumption. The profits of the farmer
of the manufacturer, of the merchant, and retailer
are all drawn from the price of the 
goods which the two first produce, and the 
two last buy and sell. Equal capitals, however, 
employed in each of those four different 
ways, will immediately put into motion very 
different quantities of productive labour; and 
augment, too, in very different proportions, 
the value of the annual produce of the land 
and labour of the society to which they belong
The capital of the retailer replaces, together 
with its profits, that of the merchant of whom 
he purchases goods, and thereby enables him 
to continue his business. The retailer himself 
is the only productive labourer whom it 
immediately employs. In his profit consists 
the whole value which its employment adds to 
the annual produce of the land and labour of 
the society
The capital of the wholesale merchant replaces
together with their profits, the capitals 
of the farmers and manufacturers of whom he 
purchases the rude and manufactured produce 
which he deals in, and thereby enables 
them to continue their respective trades. It 
is by this service chiefly that he contributes 
indirectly to support the productive labour of 
the society, and to increase the value of its annual 
produce. His capital employs, too, the 
sailors and carriers who transport his goods 
from one place to another; and it augments