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.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction, John Benson and Laura Ugolini. Section 1 Itineraries and Spaces of Selling: West End shopping with Vogue: 1930s geographies of metropolitan consumption, Bronwen Edwards; Beyond the boundary of the shop: retail advertising spaces in 18th-century provincial England, Victoria Morgan; Creating new spaces of food consumption: the rise of mass catering and the activities of the Aerated Bread Company, Gareth Shaw, Louise Curth and Andrew Alexander. Section 2 Wheeling and Dealing: 'Speciousness is the bucketeer's watchword and outrageous effrontery his capital': financial bucket shops in the City of London, c. 1880-1939, Dilwyn Porter; Buy now - pay later. Credit: the mainstay of the retail furniture business? Clive Edwards; 'Funny money', hidden charges and repossession: working-class experiences of consumption and credit in the inter-war years, Avram Taylor. Section 3 Good Salesmanship: 'The customer is always right': change and continuity in British and American department store salesmanship, 1945-60, Joy Cushman; 'The diligent hand maketh rich': commercial advice for retailers in late 17th and early 18th century England, Elizabeth Anne Rothenberg; Interactions of discontent: customers, sales assistants and the state in the German Democratic Republic, 1970-89, Christina SchrÃ¶der; The view from the shop: window display, the shopper and the formulation of theory, Susan Lomax. Index.
Professor John Benson and Dr Laura Ugolini are both based at the University of Wolverhampton, UK.
’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