Contrast the counter intuitive treatment in law of a store displaying stock on its shelves, with the much more common sensical treatment of a poster for an auction.
In an auction the stock may be particularly advertised while the prices are understood to remain to be determined. In a shop, the items are already specified, as are their prices on the tags underneath them. All the terms of the contract have already been set by the vendor such as to suit it, with the only thing remaining missing being a willing buyer. When one is so enticed by the advertised terms as to approach the store’s till with desired items in hand, why is this an offer to contract rather than a final acceptance of an offer previously promulgated by the seller by displaying their stock with specified sale prices? Why are the displays of prices retractable invitations to treat rather that offers of sale in themselves?