Britain’s high street revolution has made retailing one of the most important and dynamic sectorsof the British economy in the last twenty years. It has had an irreversible impact on our towns and cities and, for many people, transformed shopping from an unattractive domestic chore to a pleasurable ‘leisure ‘experience’, offering consumers an everchanging array of ‘disposable dreams’. The resulting ‘retail culture’ is everywhere – it has colonised huge areas of our social life outside the traditional high street, from sporting venues to arts centres, from railway termini to museums. Many see it as the epitome of Thatcher’s Britain, breeding acquisitive individualism and destroying our traditional manufacturing base. Others see it as a potential saviour of an ailing economy.
Yet to date there has been no thorough analysis of this all-pervasive phenomenon, from its economic roots to its profound social effects. In Consuming Passion, Carl Gardner and Julie Sheppard have written the first overall study of the ‘retail revolution’ – a controversial and hard-hitting look at where retailing has come from, what it has achieved and where it is going. Key issues such as the role of design, the growth of the supermarket and shopping centre and the poor conditions of retail employment are all minutely examined. The book also discusses the very real pleasures that consumers gain from today’s enhanced shopping experience.
The authors take an iconoclastic look at some of the powerful myths that have sprung up around retail: ‘the death of the high street’ scenario; the central role of credit; retailing as a major creator of employment; and the imminent possibility of ‘retail saturation’. A fascinating book for everyone who likes shopping – and even those who hate it.
First published 1989.
‘A valuable and welcome undergraduate textbook.’ Environment and Planning
‘Recommended unreservedly to managers and planners in the distributive trades and to all those who are concerned with the implications of current trends in the provision of shopping facilities.’ Retail Distribution and Management
List of tables. List of illustrations. Preface. Acknowledgements. 1. The ‘Retail Revolution’ Revisited 2. Prophets or Pirates? The Economics of Retail 3. Consuming Passion: The Growth of Retail Culture 4. The New Alchemy: Design in the Service of Retail 5. The New Cathedral: The Rise and Rise of the Shopping Centre 6. High Street Blues: Retailing and Urban Decline 7. The Supermarketeers: Hard Selling in the Food Business 8. Counter Revolution: Toil and Trouble in the Trade 9. Back to the Future: Retail in the 1990s and Beyond. Appendix. Bibliography. Index