Prior to economic reforms of the early 1990s, consumer goods produced at Ulaanbaatar or imported from abroad were distributed by state marketing agencies to retail outlets in local administrative centers. Prices for all items except consumer services and some luxury goods were set by the government. With steady price liberalization undertaken since 1990, prices are now closely regulated for only a few staples, such as fuel, rice, and flour.
Because the rapid dismantling of the government's centrally planned distribution system proceeded without an effective alternative yet in place, severe supply shortages have been experienced especially in the country's urban centers. To reduce these shortages, a system of public markets has been developed where supplies in excess of targeted deliveries can be sold freely. Commodity exchanges, however, still retain some of the characteristics of a centrally planned economy. Bartering is still common among Mongolia's nomadic population.
As of 2002, wide-spread reform toward privatization was nearly completed and these privately-owned enterprises have begun to show growth in contributions to the economy. The government still seeks foreign investment as a major opportunity to boost and stabilize the domestic economy.
Business hours are generally from 9 AM to 6 PM , Monday through Friday.