The study of consumption and its relationship to cultural and social values has become a vibrant and important field in recent years. Hitherto however, relatively few detailed and full length works on this topic have been published. In what will become a seminal volume, this book examines retail selling in various historical contexts and locations, as both an activity at once 'mundane' and almost universal. The book introduces the reader to the existing literature relevant to the subject; and explores the widespread perceptions of moral ambiguity surrounding the practice of selling consumer goods - ranging from concerns about the adulteration of goods, to fears about sharp practice on the part of retailers - and places such concerns in the context of wider societal values and ideas. The ambivalence towards retail selling and sellers is also a central focus of the collection, focussing on the attempts by retailers to develop selling techniques and successful practices of salesmanship, and at the same time establish widely-shared understandings of 'good' retailing. The book also delves into the more dubious practices of retail selling, including practices on the margin of legality, the issue of credit and changing attitudes towards debt. Uniquely the book examines how sales techniques relate to the wider context of a whole shopping 'experience' or shopping environment. Taken as a whole, this volume will provide a first port of call for students, researchers and others interested in exploring consumer cultures, and the cultural norms and practices involved in the sale of consumer goods in various historical periods and geographical contexts.
’This book should find many readers who are interested in consumption. They will find a rich source of information and analysis.’ Journal of British Studies ’...a substantial and informative introduction... The editors are to be thanked for bringing this collection together.’ Business History Review