2008 volume 40(9) pages 2204 – 2221

Cite as:
Alexander A, Phillips S, Shaw G, 2008, "Retail innovation and shopping practices: consumers’ reactions to self-service retailing" Environment and Planning A 40(9) 2204 – 2221

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Retail innovation and shopping practices: consumers’ reactions to self-service retailing

Andrew Alexander, Simon Phillips, Gareth Shaw

Received 31 March 2006; in revised form 5 January 2007; published online 5 October 2007

Abstract. In this paper we address the related issues of retail innovation, changing shopping practices, and shopping geographies. We do so in relation to the spread of self-service grocery stores, and particularly the supermarket, in the postwar retail environment of Britain (1950 – 70), arguing that this juncture provides a propitious opportunity to study the relationship between changing practices of retailing and consumption. We highlight shoppers’ selective adoption of new self-service formats in relation to certain product categories and argue that this can be explained in part by reference to the socially embedded nature of women food shoppers’ behaviours and in particular the influence of contemporary notions of the ‘good housewife’. We support our argument by reference to a wide range of contemporary documentary material relating to postwar shopping including market research reports, the publications of local consumer groups, and selected retailer and government archive sources.

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