The fascinating history of shopping and its influence on how we buy stuff today - Deepstash
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The History Of Shopping: A Recurring Cycle

The History Of Shopping: A Recurring Cycle

Shopping history never moves in one single direction or all at once. There have always been regional and chronological divergences from mainstream developments.

There are also retailing modes that fall by the wayside and then return at a later date in new guises or with new names. They often have every appearance of being newly invented.


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The Self-Service Revolution

The Self-Service Revolution

  • Self-service was the shopping revolution of the 20th century.
  • Promoted as a modern, efficient way to shop, self-service entailed both a different type of store layout and new norms of customer and shop-worker behaviour.
  • There was no need for counter service if customers were making their own selections.
  • All available goods were put out on display, within reach.
  • No need to ask someone to fetch them.
  • The abolition of counter service meant that their various skills, including their people skills, were made redundant.


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Internet Shopping

Internet Shopping

  • With self-service firmly established to assist supposedly "time-poor" consumers, the stage was set for internet shopping to promise an even more efficient way of doing things
  • You don't have to take yourself anywhere to get to the store, which never closes
  • Everything is always on the screen
  • There is still a trolley or basket, but not one that you have to push or carry
  • The shop assistant is wholly absent from the screen


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The Impact Of Lockdown And Going To The Town Center

The Impact Of Lockdown And Going To The Town Center

  • People began to support and use independent local shops.
  • Home deliveries were organized by smaller shops, often working together in groups.
  • In the media, shop assistants were referred to as “frontline workers”.
  • The pandemic had demonstrated what shops were really for, and why we should not let them go.
  • Town centres had been dying a much-discussed death for years, as more and more shops were being closed down and stayed unused.
  • Some towns were taking action to resist the trend, battling back with collective imagination and sometimes with significant financial backing.


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A Return to Home Delivery

A Return to Home Delivery

  • Until the middle of the 20th century, most shops offered home delivery as a matter of course.
  • With self-service came the end of most home delivery services.
  • The new delivery services offered by smaller, independent stores that started up during lockdown represented a return to local arrangements that were standard before the arrival of Self-Service.
  • New technology has actively contributed to the revival of an older form of shopping.


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