Commercial areas in a city are areas, districts, or neighborhoods primarily composed of commercial buildings, such as a downtown, central business district, financial district, "Main Street", commercial strip, or shopping centers. Commercial activity within cities includes the buying and selling of goods and services in retail businesses, wholesale buying and selling, financial establishments, and a wide variety of uses that are broadly classified as "business." While commercial activities typically take up a relatively small amount of land, they are extremely important to a community's economy. They provide employment, facilitate the circulation of money, and often serve many other roles important to the community, such as public gathering and cultural events.

A commercial area is real estate intended for use by for-profit businesses, such as office complexes, shopping malls, service stations and restaurants. It may be purchased outright by a developer for future projects or leased through a real estate broker. This type of property falls somewhere between residential and industrial property. Practically every incomer must grant permission to build a new office complex or other profit-making business, the city government must determine that the chosen area is indeed commercial area. The zones which separate commercial, industrial, and residential area are clearly zoned for commercial use, then the city will allow the sale to proceed for the stated use. If any part of the property extends into a residential or industrial zone, however, then the buyer must seek a 'variance', special permission to cross over a zone boundary.