Shopping Changes In Habits And Our Shops over 70 years
Food And Groceries the history price changes over 100 years
Our Decade Food Page include 50 plus prices for each decade taken from newspaper adds around the country
The Changing Face of shopping, high streets and shops dissapeared
Over the last 40 yrs the changes we have seen to our high streets and local shops have been as drastic as any in technology .
When I was young most of the shopping was done in traditional shops including the local Butchers, Bakers, Grocers and Newsagents .
Over the years as supermarkets appeared some of those traditional shops closed down and small corner shops selling many of the same things started to appear, often staying open much later than the new supermarkets.
As the supermarkets stayed open for longer and longer hours even many of the small corner shops disappeared. As the supermarkets ( Hyper markets ) have grown larger and more have appeared other areas of shopping which have been affected include Clothing, Hardware, Car Spares and many other areas.
We have created this section hoping to get memories from those who ran and those who shopped at the traditional Butchers, Bakers and greengrocers and your views on what we have lost due to these changes.
As consumers we have gained through better prices often more consistent quality and often better choice but are we really better off.
Growth in Number and Diversity of Supermarkets
The growth of the supermarket has been the success story in our times, when they first appeared some specialised in fruit, vegetables and food items and others went for the opposite way with non food as the core of the business, but slowly they have converged and built bigger and bigger out of town stores and now sell anything from paint to toys to a mouse for your computer to fresh bananas .
As they have grown a few very powerful forces in supermarket retailing dominate the market in each country.
Walmart in the US has become the countries 2nd largest employer selling any and every thing in massive super stores and have caused many small specialist retailers to close as they can not compete with pricing, and Walmart has also expanded into other countries sometimes buying existing supermarket chains and expanding them. Many consumers do complain about the loss of local specialist stores in their towns but are often the same people who shop at Walmart.
Tesco are the dominant player in the UK with large superstores in out of town shopping areas with easy and free parking and like Walmart in the US continue to expand in the UK and abroad, but in comparison to Walmart in the US do still have a number of major competitors including ASDA WALMART, Morrisons, Waitrose etc.
In Canada the dominant supermarket chain is Loblaw Companies Limited but due to its trading under some 15 different brand names with 1600 stores most people think that Metro is the largest with some 500 plus supermarkets.
Australia and New Zealand
Woolworths Limited is the largest supermarket chain in Australia and New Zealand trading under it's own name and other trading names and is the largest food retailer in Australia and New Zealand.
As supermarkets and hyper markets become bigger and attack other areas of retailing ( i.e. car tyres batteries and Car spares ) we will continue to see changes to our traditional shops with many not being able to compete and others changing to suit any niches that the big supermarkets do not want to enter, also we must remember that many of these giants of retailing have created an Internet presence that goes beyond the goods they sell in their stores to attack even more market sectors .
Department Stores History
The concept of a department store goes back in history to late 1800's but has evolved and changed as has the rest of the shops. Originally most of the department stores were independent and owned locally in the city they traded . This has been the biggest change in the last 50 years where now a single company may own 20 brands trading in City centres and out of town Malls .
Department stores are identified by the fact they sell a wide range of products including clothing, furniture, appliances, toiletries, cosmetics, jewelry, toys, and sporting goods.
Two of the best examples of the largest of these Department Stores could be considered as Macy's in New York and Harrods in London .
In some areas as changes have evolved the distinction between a department store and a supermarket has been eroded a good example of this would be Walmart who originally were considered a discount department store but now could be called ( Department Store, Supermarket, Hyper market or a discount department store ) as Walmart has moved into food and grocery and have built new superstores that are large enough to sell the traditional products they started with together with a full range of foods and grocery's . As another example Marks and Spencers in the UK has added large food courts and furniture sales as part of their newer and larger stores so the distinction between supermarket and department store continues to become harder to identify.
Below we have listed some of the largest companies who control much of the market around the world
Myer Department Stores now owned by Newbridge Capital
David Jones trading as David Jones department store
John Lewis Partnership With stores including
John Lewis, Dickin and Jones, Dingles, Knight and Lee, Rackmans, Peter Jones
Debenhams with 123 stores UK wide
Marks and Spencers
Harrods Department Store Single Store in London Known World Wide
Federated Department Stores Owns and operates the Following brands
Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Marshall Field's, L.S. Ayres, Famous-Barr, Filene's, Foley's, Hecht's, The Jones Store, Kaufmann's, Lord & Taylor, Meier & Frank, Robinsons-May and Strawbridge's
The Bon-Ton Stores Group Owns and Operates the following Brands
Carson Pirie Scott, Younkers, Herberger's, Bergner's and Boston Store
Belk Department Stores
Dillards Departmnent Stores
Neiman Marcus Group Owns and Operates the following Brands
Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman
Sears Group Owns and Operates the following Brands
Sears, KMART Stores
Saks Fifth Avenue
Changes in The Local Corner Shop
The traditional corner shop has evolved by trying to find areas where the larger supermarkets have left an opening including longer opening hours, local produce, wider range of books and magazines, better choice of sweets and confectionery, lottery ticket sales, but as supermarkets continue to change and evolve it is becoming harder to find an area that can be profitable.
The large supermarkets are also changing by building smaller express stores often as part of a Gas / Petrol station which can provide the longer opening hours .
Over the last few years many of the corner shops have been run by immigrants as they are willing to work the long hours and have an extended family willing to help with the hours needed to survive , but they are also starting to adapt to the market changes and are moving into the petrol / gas stations which also require long hours to succeed and adapt the sales area to create a corner shop inside the confines of gas retailing business.
Changes in TV and other forms of Advertising
If you ever watch a programme about the 50's or 60's you realise how much the art of advertising has changed and how the art of selling through advertising has changed, this applies to TV advertising, Movie Advertising, Newspapers and Magazines.
When I think back one of the most striking changes is how much the Tobacco Industry advertised before governments realised the high cost on our health of smoking and have closed of most areas of advertising and sponsorship to Tobacco companies trying to protect the younger generation from the effects.
The other change I have noticed is how differently women are portrayed between the 50's and now as women were not a significant part of the workforce so were target ted in a different way.
History of Home Catalogue Shopping
The concept of a home shopping catalogue was started by Richard Sears back in the late 1890's, originally to market goods and items to farmers as they did not have access to many of the goods due to their remote locations, and it included items ranging from sewing machines, clothing, bicycles, sporting goods, dolls, refrigerators, stoves and even groceries. From that point on the growth of The Sears, Roebuck catalog became to many "the Consumers' Bible" as people living in outlying areas could see and purchase goods that were traditionally only available in the big cities .
They also produced a special Christmas Catalogue that was full of toys and became known as the "Wish Book", for kids perhaps because of the number of toys in it.
Over the next 50 years hundreds more home shopping catalogues appeared which would be sent to peoples homes and they would choose the items and order and pay for them and up till the advent of the Internet were a common way for shopping for those who did not live in a city.
In the UK the Home Shopping Catalogue appeared much later in late 1930's when John Moores the founder of Littlewoods Football Pools decided he wanted to do something new after his success with the football pools.
Unlike the United States and possibly due to how the football pools were distributed and orders taken using agents when Littewoods started catalogue shopping, in the UK money was very tight and Littlewoods used a system of clubs to pay for the goods, they were called in the beginning ( "shilling Clubs" ) where each member would put in their shilling and the next person in line would receive their goods, One other interesting fact is that after his first successful year John Moores visited Richard Sears to swap notes and ideas. as in the US the catalogue industry grew in leaps and bounds and new players entered the market.
Avon Cosmetics Catalogue
Avon cosmetics was one of the few companies that flourished in both the USA and the UK using agents who would earn commission on each sale , they would take the latest catalogue together with samples for smell etc to a ladies home and leave the catalogue for 1 week and then go back to collect the order , many women who spent time at home used Avon as a way of meeting new friends at the same time as earning a little money.
The idea of TV shopping is an extension from the original adverts on TV where the problem for the advertisers was they could only have a short time to make their pitch for the product they were selling.
Over the years a number of additional options have become available including using a full programming slot as an infomercial on major TV channels where they could fully demonstrate the product and it's virtues, another option that appeared together with the growth of cable TV was a channel dedicated to selling products together with providing the ability to buy instantly through the telephone or on the Internet .
Other Types of Shopping
Other shops and shopping that have changed include gas stations, holiday booking agencies, charity shops, out of town shopping and malls, City and Town Centre shopping high streets, News Agents, and many more
an example of how many Malls there are now in the UK check this
Most shopping is now done in out of town malls or online and the traditional high street or shopping area in most inner cities is feeling the cold breeze, this has been caused by a number of reasons including parking charges, and traffic problems, but one of the advantages of going to inner city shops is that some of the traditional old fashioned shops with traditional values have survived,
Butchers traditionally bought whole carcasses, sides or quarters of meat and the cut them up into the joints or other cuts of meat that the customer wanted to buy. The Butcher also used to make his own sausages to sell and when someone went into the shop he would use a mincer to mince the meat while the customer waited, over the years combined with government regulation for the handling of meat and the growth of the supermarket most of the traditional style butchers have disappeared.
Milk Delivery From The Local Milkman
In the 50's , 60,s, 70's and 80,s the normal way to buy milk was for delivery by a milkman who would start very early in the morning and milk would be delivered 365 days a year. Some of this was due to the lack of fridges in many houses to keep the milk cold and fresh in the summer and this ensured fresh milk delivered each day. Over the years as more homes had fridges to keep the milk fresh longer and more shops started selling milk often cheaper than the local milkman, they have all but disappeared.
Many people never realised the additional service that came as part of milk delivery, they provided contact for older people to the outside world and it would often be the milkman who would find an older person in some sort of trouble and identify family or authorities to provide help.
Old Fashioned Bakery Shops
The traditional Small Independent bakers shop has survived better than many of his counterparts and many are still around today, they have changed in what they make and sell and have left the traditional cut white loaf market to the supermarkets , many now have combined a traditional baking environment with a small eating area and sell ranges of pre-prepared sandwiches and cakes and pastries. As well as the independent Bakery there has been huge growth in franchise operations as consumers have started to shy away from the traditional fast foods of Hamburgers and fries and are looking for a healthier and better tasting range of convenience food fast. The franchise baker bake according to a pre-determined recipe book of pastries and breads that have been proven to be popular with consumers, there are advantages and disadvantages to this style of bakery each time a shopper buys a cake or bread he / she will get the same taste and texture at whichever shop they go to, but it also means there is no personal touch the baker can add.
Corner Sweet Shops
Of the many traditional shops that existed I personally miss the small corner sweet shop the most, many of the areas that have been taken over by supermarkets have improved choice for the consumer, but the loss of the traditional sweet shop has not improved choice in general the sweets on supermarket shelves are the same in every supermarket whoever owns it and is very limited.
Like many of our traditional shops the Greengrocer has nearly disappeared caused mostly due to the growth of the supermarket, and the massive buying power and therefore the price, and also the wide range of both traditional and exotic vegetables and fruit that the supermarket can sell, it has become almost impossible for the local grocer to survive , the one area that has survived and increased are the grocers that specialise in specific ethnic foods from the Middle East, China, Vietnam, Mexico and Italy the market in sales of these foods is to small that the supermarkets do not want to bother, so many small ethnic and cultural speciality stores not only survive they manage to prosper and act as a meeting place for immigrants.
The most likely place to find the a traditional grocer is in the local markets often selling local produce that are in season and this then allows them to compete in this area with supermarket prices.
Local Post Office
The village post office in many rural communities was the meeting place where people would post mail, buy stamps and depending on the country would depend on the other tasks they could perform , these could include pension payments, obtaining road tax license, in many villages in the UK it was often the only shop in the village.
In some countries the local post office is a part of government for example the ( USPS ) United States Postal Service and in additional to selling stamps and being able to post letters or parcels also post office boxes for personal and business use, but the UK Post Office is now a retail business and the subsidies to keep local village post offices have been cut forcing many to close over the years.
In Canada the post offices have become a mix of company owned offices and franchise owned and is run by Canada Post .
Australia Postal Service is again a Crown Owned or government organisation.
The traditional independent toyshop that existed many years ago has nearly disappeared but has been replaced by large chains due to the increased buying power, but even they have come under pressure from the larger and larger supermarkets in out of town shopping areas that are creating larger and larger toy sales areas and during the Christmas season when the highest percentage of toys are sold increase the shelf space selling toys at discounted prices.
Together with The changes in Toy shops over the years , some toys that have been sold for many years for example Barbie's are still selling well today and a new breed of toys has appeared driven by the cheaper cost of electronics ranging from small hand held computer games and electronic teaching tools for children which are both fun to play with and educational.
Bicycle Repair and Sales
When I was much younger most kids used bicycles as the main form of transport the roads were quieter and safer and our bikes were solidly built often with only 3 gears.
If I got a puncture I would go to the local bicycle shop to buy a puncture repair kit or to buy brake pads, the shop traditionally was staffed by people who could help with tips on how to repair your bike and would also do puncture repairs , many of those shops have disappeared but some have prospered as our quest for fitness has sent many of us older folk back to our bikes not to get us from A to B but to act as a pleasant way to stay fit and enjoy the countryside, as per the many other areas of shopping supermarkets do now sell bikes but without the knowledge and time the local shops can still provide.
Ironmongers / DIY Store
Like many of the other small independent retailers the traditional Hardware Store / Ironmonger ( UK ) has been affected by the changes in the retail sector with large chain stores such as Lowe's, Home Depot and Mennards in the US and B and Q and Jewsons in the UK , as it is difficult to compete on price or choice, to make things worse super retailers like Walmart also target the same sector with departments inside their superstores.
In the US co-operatives such as Ace Hardware or True Value can still compete by using the combined buying power of a large number of small retailers to compete on price, and can still offer the personal service and knowledge to compete with the majors.
In the UK it has become harder and harder but many small traditional hardware shops do survive through the help, time, knowledge and assistance they can provide for the man or woman wanting to do maintenance of their homes which can not be obtained from the larger organisations.
The traditional shop selling fresh fish like the local butcher has suffered with the changes in the retail industry and supermarkets in particular, when combined with new food regulations from Government it has become harder and harder to compete and survive. The public buying habits have also changed as younger consumers appear as they are used to seeing their fish all preprocessed ready for cooking .
Clothing and Fashions
Our clothing shops have changed radically in the last 50 years as there are very few independent retailers most are now chains with often many 1000's of shops around the country with the purchasing power required to compete with the new supermarkets and department stores who also sell men's, women's and childrens clothes and shoes.
Unlike many other areas of retailing the effect of fashion trends can make a major impact on a clothing shops sales.
As the market has matured a number of specialist shops targeting specific areas of fashion i.e. Lingerie, Goth, Accessories, Formal have evolved and there is also specialist targeting by age, men's, women's, teenagers, childrens, and infants .
Some of the most drastic changes have been in the growth of shops dedicated to the teenage market due to the increased spending power and importance to this market of wearing the latest cool and trendy clothes
Furniture shops are possibly one of the lesser affected shops from the changes in retailing and they appear to have survived and prospered, I suspect due to the choice they can offer over the other forms of retailing and that the consumer is often looking for furniture in their homes that goes with what they see in their minds also because unlike many other areas of shopping they are willing to spend more time and money to make the furniture in their home a personal thing to reflect their personality, also the range of styles and quality is only limited by the craftsman.
Haberdashers was the name given to shops in the UK who sold the items needed for making your own clothes including cloth, buttons, zips, thread etc and do not really exist much any more for a number of reasons , In the 1930's all the way through to the early 1970's due in the beginning to the great depression worldwide and then the world war and finally the oil price hikes in the 70's many mothers made clothes for themselves their children and husbands as this was the only way a family could afford new clothes, they would find a pattern and the haberdasher would sell the basics needed to make these clothes including buttons, thread, ribbons, cloth and often the patterns needed to make or knit them, since that time the making of clothes has moved from a necessity to a craft where people do still make clothes but most often because they want to wear something that is different and reflects their personality.