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Harrap's New Shorter English-French Dictionary, Ed. 1982, states,

trade

[...]

2. (b) NAm (i) transaction (commerciale); (ii) clientèle f (d'une maison); carriage trade, grosse clientèle.

[...]

Now, looking up "transaction" in the French-English section of the dictionary, here's what it says:

transaction

n.f. 1. (a) Com: transaction; pl. dealings, deals.

[...]

Random House Webster's College Dictionary, Ed. 1991, supports that "transaction" sense of "trade."

trade

[...]

  1. a purchase or sale; business deal or transaction.

[...]

My question is, is this usage of "trade" actually restricted to North American vernacular or has it since spread into other regions of the English speaking world?

In addition, can "trade" work fine as a substitute for "business transaction" in all senses of "a purchase or sale; business deal or transaction"?

Please, compare:

carriage trade: Wealthy, well-to-do, or upper-class customers receiving special treatment or the transactions conducted with them, as distinguished from the working class. Businesses catering to these customers sell high-end, or high-priced, goods and services and tend to offer amenities in their shops not ordinarily found in standard retailers or service providers. The term originally applied to rich theater patrons or store clients who traveled in private carriages.

-and-

carriage trade: Wealthy, well-to-do, or upper-class customers receiving special treatment or the trades conducted with them, as distinguished from the working class. Businesses catering to these customers sell high-end, or high-priced, goods and services and tend to offer amenities in their shops not ordinarily found in standard retailers or service providers. The term originally applied to rich theater patrons or store clients who traveled in private carriages.

Source: Business Dictionary

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  • In financial context they are synonyms. The only slight difference I percieve it that transaction is probably more used in 'settlement' contexts while trade is more used in active "buying and selling" activities. – user66974 Feb 8 '16 at 10:45
  • Note that deal is also used as a synonym of trade: - A business transaction: struck a deal to buy a car dealership. thefreedictionary.com/deal – user66974 Feb 8 '16 at 10:51
  • In your example only transaction in correct, paying with a credit cart is not a financial activity, but just consumer spending, you are just paying. – user66974 Feb 8 '16 at 10:54
  • @Josh61 Right. Then, by analogy with "struck a deal to buy a car dealership," can one say, "struck a trade to buy a car dealership"? – Elian Feb 8 '16 at 10:56
  • @Josh61 Sure, but it still is a business transaction between two parties, i.e. the merchant and the customer. – Elian Feb 8 '16 at 11:00
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+50

can "trade" work fine as a substitute for "business transaction" in all senses of "a purchase or sale; business deal or transaction"?

No.

carriage trade: Wealthy, well-to-do, or upper-class customers receiving special treatment or the transactions conducted with them,

In your examples, “transactions” is correct. If you use “trades” that suggests bartering in this context.

If you are talking specifically about one person dealing with one person, then “trade” suggests bartering, while “transaction” suggests that one person is paying cash and receiving a good or service in return. “Transaction” is very specific.

However, more broadly, you can talk about ”the sex trade,” “stock trading,” or “trade deals” and trade still works. Money is just one of the things being traded.

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The short answer is no. In fact, Usage of the word trade in the sense of transaction is much more restricted in the North American vernacular than your dictionary suggests. (I am a native English speaker from the US.) It is typically limited to cases where things are bartered rather than simply sold or purchased, such as, "I'll trade you my antique clock for your bicycle," or with respect to the purchase or sale of stocks or commodities. The word would never be used the way you used it in your example.

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  • No, “trade” can also refer to deals where money changes hands. The “sex trade,” “stock trading,” “trade deals.” – Simon White Feb 10 '16 at 19:16
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I would suggest taking the phrase out and simply saying "customers receiving special treatment, as distinguished from the working class."

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