Window Shopping - History

Window Shopping - History

Because money was not easily earned, it was not easily spent. Children could not have what they wanted, but they did look.

A Brief History of New York City’s Holiday Windows

A trip to New York City during the holidays is hardly complete without a stop to view the many department-store windows decked out with seasonal installations. Here, a look at how this beloved tradition became part of the holiday season.

In New York City, the holiday season signifies the arrival of a 72-foot (22 meters) Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, mugs of hot chocolate sandwiched between mitten-clad hands, and the city’s many department-store windows’ transformation into flashy holiday-themed installations and edgy, avant-garde art exhibits.

This annual tradition has long been an inherent part of the holiday season. Every year, lengthy lines snake along Fifth Avenue and beyond, filled with tourists and locals waiting to view the animatronics at Macy’s or the crystal-garnished sculptures at Bergdorf Goodman.

But while many department stores take part in the tradition these days, Macy’s claims to have been the first to devise the intricately adorned holiday windows. In the second half of the 19th century, department stores began employing their first-floor windows as modern advertisements, showcasing their products. But it wasn’t until 1874, when RH Macy (Macy’s owner at the time) strung together an assortment of porcelain dolls posed in scenes from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that the NYC holiday windows were born.

At the turn of the century, department stores in several US cities amped up window displays in an attempt to charm window shoppers into actually coming into the store. These tactics proved successful, especially during the holiday season when stores cranked it up a notch, transforming windows once simply reserved for stores’ wares into more intricate installations that had less to do with advertising and more to do with crafting something purely decorative.

Nowadays, New York’s famed department stores – from Macy’s to Barneys to Saks and Bloomingdale’s – carry on this tradition. Macy’s remains the most famous, often frequented the most by tourists and families during peak hours, nearly 10,000 people each day will pass by Macy’s holiday windows, making it arguably the leading tourist stop of the season. According to Roya Sullivan, Macy’s national director of window presentation, it takes almost a year to plan the holiday windows, with 200 team members being involved. Sullivan leads the charge for Macy’s six ever-revolving displays that wrap around 34th Street every year.

Here, the windows brim with sculptures (which in the past have included the Peanuts gang, plenty of reindeer and Santa), animatronics, a dusting of snow and even a custom interactive video game. Sullivan explains that every year her team is tasked with telling a story through the windows. The process is not unlike staging a play, she says. The story in 2018 centers on Sunny the Snowpal, who works to save Christmas with the help of her friends.

Macy’s certainly centers the windows around the holidays, but not every department store is doused with holiday themes. The windows at Barneys are designed by different artists every year. In years past, windows have included an ice skater gliding across a small block of ice and psychedelic 1960s-inspired sculptures. Saks Fifth Avenue projects a fairytale light show across the entire facade of the building several times an hour after the sun sets. Bergdorf Goodman’s tall and narrow windows brim with cotton-candy-clad mannequins and sculptures donning sparkling dresses.

A lot has changed for New York City’s holiday windows since Macy’s first designed its humble displays in the 19th century. Each year the artistry becomes more festive and the themes more challenging and inspiring. One thing that doesn’t change is the crowds, which are massive as always.

Julia Goicochea contributed additional reporting to this article


What is Retail?

First things first. What do we mean when we say retail?

At its simplest definition, retail is the sale of different goods and services to customers with the intention to make a profit.

Retail includes selling through different channels, so items purchased in store and those purchased online both apply.

The definition of retail is expansive enough that it includes the traveling merchants of antiquity all the way to sprawling shopping malls, big-box stores and ecommerce platforms.

Let’s consider how various points on the retail timeline have affected what retail has become, how people shop, and what customers expect today.


Shop ’till you drop: a brief history of Christmas shopping

When it comes to exploiting Christmas for all its commercial possibilities, the Victorians take some beating. Mark Connelly looks at how our forbears turned the season of goodwill into an orgy of consumption and shopping

This competition is now closed

Published: November 14, 2019 at 9:00 am

Nowadays it is often said by both clergy and members of the general public alike that Christmas is no more than an orgy of consumerism, and that the message of Christmas has been drowned in a frenzy of competitive present-buying and consumption on an almost obscene level. However, this complaint is by no means new. In fact, it stretches back to the last quarter of the 19th century, a time when many of us believe Christmas, infused by the spirit of Charles Dickens, was more homely, wholesome and spiritual.

Another much repeated ‘fact’ about Christmas is that it was invented by the Victorians, and Charles Dickens in particular. While there is no doubting the fact that the Victorians, partly inspired by Dickens, were fascinated by the celebration of Christmas, they didn’t invent it. Rather they reinvigorated it and brought together the many Christmas customs of Britain and threw themselves into the season in a way not seen before. Being a nation of manufacturers, industrialists and shopkeepers, it was not long before Victorians realised that Christmas, with its emphasis on generosity and hospitality, could be exploited for commercial possibilities. With the growth of a department store culture in Britain from the 1870s, the scene was set for a fusion of sentiment and shopping to arrive every year in late November, and it wasn’t long before some began to complain.

Dickensian delights

Buying for Christmas was not entirely a development of the late 19th century, however. Before the late 1870s to early 1880s there was additional purchasing for Christmas, but much of this shopping was centred on exotic and special foods. Gift giving was important, but its general profile was relatively low. In A Christmas Carol (1843) Dickens mentions toys bought as children’s gifts, but they come a poor second to the heart of early 19th-century Christmas shopping – culinary delights:

“The poulterers’ shops were still half open, and the fruiterers’ were radiant in their glory. There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts… There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish onions… There were pears and apples… there were bunches of grapes… piles of filberts… there were Norfolk pippins… The Grocers’! oh the Grocers’!… the blended scents of tea and coffee… the raisins were so plentiful and rare, the almonds so extremely white, the sticks of cinnamon… the other spices so delicious, the candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar… the figs were moist and pulpy,… the French plums blushed in modest tartness… everything was good to eat and in its Christmas dress: [and]… the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day.”

Provisions were obviously very important, far more so than the idea of browsing for presents, or the as yet unknown glory of picking Christmas card designs.

But as the number of department stores grew, symbols of an ever greater consumerism, fuelled by the increasing resources of a growing middle class, so did the Christmas shopping obsession. By the turn of the century, festivities commenced when the shopping season began – no sooner, no later. Advent Sunday, Christmas Eve, the First Night of Christmas, Twelfth Night, the dates by which the church signalled and measured the season, were pushed aside by the new development of mass consumerism. The clarion call of Christmas was being heard earlier and earlier thanks to the desire of retailers to maximise their profits.

A tale in the Christmas Story-Teller of 1878 shows how far popular culture took the shop as its calendar: “Christmas was coming. There were indications everywhere. The grocers, the butchers, and fancy emporiums, all proclaimed Christmas was coming”.

Tokens of goodwill

According to the Lady’s Pictorial of December 1881, Christmas announced itself through the transformation of shops: “Christmas cards in almost every window, in the companionship of the attractions of the toy-seller, the wares of the draper, the irresistible temptations of the milliner, and of their more legitimate comrades in the show-cases of the stationer – from everywhere have these pretty little tokens of good-will and kindly thoughts been peering-out and seeking the attention of the passer-by.”

In EM Forster’s Howards End (1910), Mrs Wilcox prevails upon Margaret Schlegel to help her with her Christmas shopping: “I thought we would go to Harrod’s or the Haymarket Stores… Everything is sure to be there”. One ex-employee of the Bon Marché in Brixton wrote of her memories of the shop in the 1930s: “To many the Bon Marché was always the starting point for Christmas shopping, and this was so for me. The Post Office was in Bon Marché, and so after drawing out some savings, I would start out complete with a list in one hand and a shopping bag in the other”.

Department stores had created a new Christmas custom, that of obsessive shopping – and sought new attractions to lure consumers in. In 1888 JP Robert of Stratford, West Ham, unveiled the first Santa’s Grotto in his store, and with it he inaugurated a vital Christmas tradition. By the turn of the century all children wanted to sit on Santa’s knee, and all store owners wanted to induce their mammas to bring them in.

The desire to entice custom instigated another new tradition – in the increasingly sophisticated art of window-dressing. By the 1880s the great department stores were putting enormous efforts into outshining their rivals’ Christmas displays. Peter Jones in Sloane Square made sure that its Christmas window displays gave “one the impression of having been well thought out and carefully planned well in advance”.

Gordon Selfridge was one of the great impresarios of Christmas windows. His apprenticeship in Marshall Field of Chicago had given him the keenest eye for glamour and presentation. Indeed it was Selfridge who coined the phrase “only X shopping days to Christmas”.

According to The Times, 1923 was a vintage year in the art of Christmas window dressing: “The shop windows everywhere this Christmas show a great advance over former years in the matter of setting and display. Last week long after closing time there were crowds of people who seemed to be ‘touring’ the great shopping centres, where windows were lighted up to about 10pm”.

In November 1924, the Drapers’ Record paid a visit to F Parsons and Son of Stoke Newington, designers and builders of ship fittings. They were busy working on their latest creation for a Christmas bazaar. A huge mock-up of medieval London was to be built telling the story of Dick Whittington.

The commissioning store was not only getting a pantomime tale, but was also buttressing one of the romances of English history. The children were to enter via a perfect, scale model of the original Aldersgate as it appeared in the 15th century. Just the other side of the gate was the Lord Mayor’s Coach which would then take a dozen or so children for a ride up a hill for about one hundred feet.

At this point Father Christmas was to greet them, then they passed by a series of “realistic tableaux depicting in turn a panoramic view of the City, showing St Paul’s and Bow Church, with the bells pealing in the distance the Docks of London, with their old-time ships the King and Queen at the Palace the Lord Mayor’s Show and, finally the Banquet in the Guildhall”.

There’s little doubt that such displays had the desired effect. Massive crowds touring the opulent windows became as much a part of the British Christmas as crackers and plum pudding. As The Outlook of December 1898 pointed out, to go Christmas shopping at the end of the 19th century was to throw yourself into “a vortex of would-be buyers”. The vortex was described thus:

“In Swan and Edgar’s this morning, for example, the hubbub on the staircase was simply deafening. A continual stream of ‘sightseers’ wended their way up and down… I leave Evan’s and retrace my steps as far as Oxford Circus. The windows in Peter Robinson’s are so enthralling it seems a pity to go in… I stand for a moment at Marshall and Snelgrove’s window, and my feminine heart begins to pine for the beauties behind the glass.”

Such was the magnetic pull of the shop windows at Christmas that the crowds sometimes reached dangerous levels. During Christmas 1909 the police had to be called to Swan and Edgar because the weight of people at the windows on the corner of Great Marlborough Street and Regent Street had entirely blocked the road bringing the traffic to a standstill.

By the 1930s the great retailers had managed to inculcate an atmosphere of expectation. Everybody was keen to know what the designers had dreamt up – and so a self-perpetuating phenomenon had been created. Indeed, the mania was so intense that customers were urged to consider the strain on shop-workers. At Christmas 1898 the Drapers’ Record urged all shoppers to buy early in order to make life easier for shop assistants. Writing to The Times in December 1913, the chairman of the Early Closing Association stated that: “within a few weeks Christmas will be upon us, and those bent on Christmas shopping can in great degree relieve this strain by making their purchases – so far as possible – early in the day and early in the month”.

Royal examples

The great and the good added their weight to this campaign. In 1923 The Times noted that: “The Queen and Princess Mary, Viscount Lascelles, have done a considerable portion of their shopping already. They began the buying of toys (of which both make large purchases each year) some weeks ago, and last week the Queen did a good deal of general buying, and thus set a good example to the rest of London.”

But this creeping commercialism, which seemed to dominate Christmas more with every passing year, was not without its critics, and was satirised brilliantly by George and Weedon Grossmith in Mr Pooter and his Diary of a Nobody (1892).

Christmas finds Mr Pooter having to buy a good many cards as a result of his “going out in Society and increasing the number of our friends”. He went to shop in Smirkson’s in the Strand, nominally a drapers, but “this year have turned out everything in the shop and devoted the whole place to the sale of Christmas cards”. But the industry of Christmas cards had already taken on a coarse attitude, as the fastidious Pooter was about to find out:

“I had to buy more and pay more than intended. Unfortunately I did not examine them all, and when I got home I discovered a vulgar card with a picture of a fat nurse with two babies, one black and the other white, and the words: ‘We wish Pa a Merry Christmas.’ I tore up the card and threw it away”.

He is equally disgusted by his son’s habit of scribbling a higher price on the corner of each card, so people will think he has paid much more.

Forster explored the link between this new commercial Britain and Christmas in Howards End. For him it was almost as if it was impossible to come close to the true heart of Christmas, and the English Christmas especially, in the commercial excesses of London’s department stores. He noted that Margaret “felt the grotesque impact of the unseen upon the seen, and saw issuing from a forgotten manger at Bethlehem this torrent of coins and toys. Vulgarity reigned”.

In Wynyard Browne’s 1950 play, The Holly and the Ivy, the Reverend Martin Gregory bemoans the fact that the true meaning of Christmas had utterly disappeared over the years. “The brewers and the retail-traders have got hold of it. It’s all eating and drinking and givin’ each other knick-knacks.” It was a condemnation of the season that many could identify with.

The Second World War and the austerity years of the late Forties and early Fifties put the brakes on the commercialisation of Christmas, but certainly did not bring it to a halt altogether. Then, as rationing was relaxed in the Fifties and Britons entered a period in which they “had never had it so good”, as Prime Minister Harold Macmillan so famously put it, the spending spree recommenced.

This was given an even greater impetus by the advent of commercial television and the speed with which advertising firms created special Christmas TV adverts for their clients. By the 1970s most Britons knew that ITV broadcasting at Christmas would be dominated by gift product advertisements rarely seen during the rest of the year.

Nowadays, of course, it seems that no sooner has the sun set on another summer than the seasonal spending spree gets under way – confirmation that the spirits of Gordon Selfridge, JP Robert and all those other pioneers of the shopping orgies of Christmases past are alive and well today.

Inside the Victorian department store at Christmas

The Christmas season in one of the great Victorian department stores such as Whiteley’s of Bayswater or the Glasgow Polytechnic would have been a truly wondrous sight.

Store managers took enormous pride in the vivacity of their Christmas displays. Huge Christmas trees often dominated the main entrance hall, strung with bells, candles and flags. The prevalence of the flags of the United Kingdom and the wider British Empire reveal the way Christmas was intimately associated with patriotism – something that was further reflected in the products stocked for Christmas. The toy departments were laden with lead soldiers, toy warships and military uniforms. In 1888, the London store Shoolbred’s displayed “an Egyptian camel corps similar to that which Wolseley used in the Soudan”, while across town Barker & Co were specialising in boys’ military suits with “arms and armour complete”. Girls were offered a huge range of dolls’ houses, and accessories including prams.

The expansion of the empire also meant that exotic luxuries such as dates and figs were stocked alongside large selections of port wines and Madeira, all of which pandered to the British sweet tooth. Being a people obsessed with innovation, the Victorians loved to shop for the latest gadgets including cork-screws, pen-knives and portable grooming sets. With shop-workers’ costs relatively low, stores employed large numbers of assistants, ensuring that a Christmas shopper was indulged and flattered into parting with every penny.

The Dickensian dream of Christmas

Charles Dickens has had an enormous impact on British culture, but it is his association with Christmas that is most pronounced. Published in 1843, A Christmas Carol was an immediate smash with the public, and quickly spawned a range of ‘pirated’ copies forcing Dickens into a number of legal actions to protect his creation. Even as dour a figure as Thomas Carlyle, the Calvinist historian and philosopher, was moved to throw Christmas dinner parties thanks to the inspiration of Dickens’s tale. The early cinema quickly latched on and no fewer than nine different film versions had been made by 1914.

The association of Christmas with Dickens started during his lifetime and gathered pace after his death. “Dickens, it may truly be said, is Christmas,” said the literature scholar, VH Allemandy, in 1921. However, important though he undoubtedly was, Dickens did not create Christmas. Rather, he reflected a general early 19th-century interest in the season and was part of a widespread, particularly middle-class, desire to reinvigorate its ancient customs.

At the time Dickens was writing his now world famous story he could have consulted an ever-burgeoning number of popular histories of Christmas such as TK Hervey’s Book of Christmas (1836), and his A History of the Christmas Festival, the New Year and their Peculiar Customs (1843) and Thomas Wright’s Specimens of Old Carols (1841). Dickens, being perfectly in-tune with Britain, therefore published his story at precisely the right moment. He was a massive player in a revival that was already under way, but he was not the sole instigator of it.

Mark Connelly is professor of modern British history at the University of Kent and author of Christmas: A Social History (IB Tauris, 1999). His other works include Steady the Buffs! A Regiment, a Region and the Great War (OUP, 2006)


Window Shopping - History

Shopping has changed quite a bit since the 1700s but, at the same time, there are some shopping trends that were around during the 18 th century that is still around today.

Shopping only became a leisurely activity in England in the 18 th century. Before then it was a chaotic event where shoppers scoured markets helplessly in search of what they needed. Markets were a place where any shop keeper could set up anywhere and no one knew where to find anything. But, as England accumulated more wealth and the cities expanded shops became more competitive. In order to win the favor of customers, shop owners went to incredible lengths, decorating the outside of their shops in the most extravagant ways they could afford. This is where window shopping originated. Curious shoppers would browse and marvel at the lavish window displays along the shopping streets. Since then, not much has particularly changed. We still have window displays and big, expensive shops attracting the more wealthy customers, however, it takes more than a pretty window display to lure in customers these days. People caught on to manipulative marketing and now shops need to have well-rounded quality and value.

Shopping in the 18 th century for the upper class was a surprisingly strict affair. For the wealthy, there were social laws and etiquette that must be abided by, lest you make a fool of yourself. Money never exchanged hands inside a shop. In fact, prices and money were rarely spoken of in a public setting. Instead, the wealthy patrons were expected to be either incredibly knowledgeable of the value of items or be too rich to care how much they cost. This is because it was seen as improper to discuss money, which is why these days we use price tags to avoid those embarrassing situations. In the 18 th century, it was also common for wealthy shoppers to have their goods delivered to their house by a courier. By doing this they were free to continue shopping without being burdened by bags and would often spend frivolously because they weren’t keeping track of how much they were buying. This might have been what inspired modern online shopping and delivery. A 2 man white glove delivery service takes the expensive products from the company and delivers it straight to the customer’s front door.

The 18 th century was also the era in which we encountered the first incidents of shops advertising their goods to the public. Before that time, shops were mostly advertised through word of mouth, but because of the increase competition shop owners used newspapers to inform the public of the great products they had on sale. Of course, for a modern shop advertising is a necessity and without it, the shop would fail. This is because a number of shops to compete with has only continued to increase over the years. With instant online access to almost every shop in every country, shops need to advertise ruthlessly in order to lure in customers.


Your very public Amazon shopping history is a window onto your soul

In June 2018, a woman from Arizona called Cheryl purchased a cremation urn from Amazon. “The urn is beautiful,” she wrote in her five-star review of the Handcrafted Funeral Memorial Urn Dove Motif in Elegant Green (Adult). “I think my husband would approve of my choice for his ashes.” Her next review was for a bed cover. “I bought this to put on my bed for my dog,” she wrote, giving the product four stars. “In the hopes that she wouldn't crowd me out during the night.”

Such is life, and death, on the Everything Store. Like millions of others, Cheryl’s Amazon reviews chart the highs and lows of her life, spanning years of personal drama. And it’s a story few people realise they are telling. In isolation, a review is a review. It tells other people whether a product was good or bad. It’s the essential, human-generated affirmation that powers Amazon’s multi-billion dollar retail empire. But it’s also an accidental diary, a story of our lives told through the things we buy, and review, on Amazon.

This is a different personal history to the one you’re curating on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s a quieter story of the prosaic and the profound, of the “robust” spatulas we buy for the kitchen and the “lovely” urns we buy for the ashes of our loved ones. For some, it’s a story told across hundreds of reviews spread over more than a decade. It’s the story of our lives, and it’s in equal parts poignant and unsettling. You are what you eat – or so the saying goes. Except you’re not, really. But you are what you buy on Amazon.

Cheryl has written 28 reviews, making her the 2,670,106th top reviewer on Amazon. These reviews tell us Cheryl loves painting, photography and growing tomatoes in her garden, even if her little slice of paradise is besieged by rabbits, rats, mice and lizards – a problem Cheryl has tackled with traps baited with peanut butter, fencing and a “critter cam”. In 2014, she got her husband a mandoline for Christmas. “I thought he wanted to learn a musical instrument. Nope, it wasn't that. He wanted a slicer that would make French fries,” she wrote in her five-star review of the KitchenConceptz Best Mandoline Slicer. “I did have to tell my hubby to slice faster and not try to do the slicing in slow motion,” she added. Over the years, from review to review, you can sketch out someone’s life.

It’s not a quirk unique to Amazon. It’s the same on TripAdvisor, Google and just about every other internet platform that relies on customer feedback. But on TripAdvisor you only review dodgy pubs, seaside hotels and damp B&Bs. And on Google you only review restaurants. On Amazon, you review everything.

And this isn’t a diary by design. Nobody means to lay bare the tragedies and triumphs of their lives when they leave a review for a variety pack of Durex condoms. Yet hundreds upon thousands of people do. “Well my teenage son hasn't knocked his GF up yet, so they must be OK,” wrote one reviewer from Essex, who goes by the name Ms. Evans, after she purchased a 40 pack of Durex Surprise Me Variety Condoms. Her Amazon profile also includes similarly tongue-in-cheek reviews for an egg timer (“got this to see if the hubby could last longer in bed”), stool softener capsules (“with all my botty problems this has been a game changer”) and various, sincere reviews for creams and lotions to help with hair thinning caused by taking cancer medication. It is strange that a couple of clicks on Amazon reveals such personal details of someone’s life. And yet here we are.

That’s not to say every review is genuine. From oddball banana slicers (“For decades I have been trying to come up with an ideal way to slice a banana. "Use a knife!" they say. Well. my parole officer won't allow me to be around knives.”) to Haribo Sugar Free Gummi Bears (“Eat these if you dare but be forewarned, they are not to be trifled with unless you want your toilet to be a staging ground for repeat fecal rehearsals of ‘The Red Wedding’ from Game of Thrones.”), Amazon’s thirst for honest, useful reviews has been twisted back on itself. For some, the call to share is seen as an opportunity to have some fun – or, in some cases, just lie. But, for the most part, Amazon reviews are honest nuggets of appraisal.

Made public through reviews, your purchasing history becomes a selective version of your life history. It’s an unintended consequence of how the online economy has evolved – and how dominant Amazon has become. For many of us, Amazon is online shopping. It’s where we buy our phones and our clothes, our art supplies and our toys, our books and our booze. When our children are born it’s where we go to pick up prams and cots. When our loved ones die, it’s where we go to buy their final resting place. It’s a different kind of personal information to that collected and stored by Facebook and Google, but in many regards it’s no less intimate.

Before Amazon came along, a huge chunk of your shopping history wasn’t recorded online for all to see. Now, even when you purchase something as personal as a cremation urn, the expectation is that you leave a review. In January of this year, a woman from Sheffield called Lesley did just that. “So beautiful,” she wrote in her five-star review of the Heartwood Memorials Solid Wood Funeral Cremation Ashes Urn For Adult With Metal Ring Handles – Mahogany Finish. “I had my mum’s ashes in here.” It’s one of 69 reviews she’s left on Amazon, dating back to the start of 2013.

Lesley’s Amazon reviews reveal she has two daughters, one in her early thirties and another in her mid-twenties. In April 2014, Lesley became a grandmother for the first time. Her grandson, like his mother, is a big fan of Teletubbies. Lesley has a caravan with a microwave, she likes eating chips and playing Bejeweled-style games on her Kindle tablet. Her kitchen is too small for a table, but it does have a tiled floor, which she cleans with her “best friend”, a Vileda mop. This is Lesley’s life, as told by Amazon.


A Quick History of the Supermarket

Chain grocery retailing was a phenomenon that took off around the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States, with the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (1859) and other small, regional players. Grocery stores of this era tended to be small (generally less than a thousand square feet) and also focused on only one aspect of food retailing. Grocers (and most of the chains fell into this camp) sold what is known as “dry grocery” items, or canned goods and other non-perishable staples. Butchers and greengrocers (produce vendors) were completely separate entities, although they tended to cluster together for convenience’s sake.

Self-Service:

Clarence Saunders’ Piggly Wiggly stores, established in Memphis in 1916, are widely credited with introducing America to self-service shopping, although other stores (notably Alpha Beta in Southern California) around the country were experimenting with the idea at about the same time. Self-service stores came to be known as “groceterias” due to the fact that they were reminiscent of the cafeteria-style eateries that were gaining popularity at the time. In Canada, Loblaw Groceterias, established in Toronto in 1919, also became a major player in the self-service field.

The Chain Store Explosion (1920s):

It was not until the 1920s that chain stores started to become a really dominant force in American food (and other) retailing. Small regional chains such as Kroger, American Stores, National Tea, Loblaws, and Dominion Stores, and others began covering more and more territory, and A&P began moving toward a more national profile, operating over 10,000 of its “economy stores” by the end of the decade. Most of these stores remained small, counter service stores, often staffed by only two or three employees, with no meat nor produce departments. Some still offered delivery and charge accounts, although most chain stores had abandoned these practices.

In 1926, Charles Merrill, of Merrill Lynch set in motion a series of transactions that led to the creation of Safeway Stores, when he arranged the merger of Skaggs Cash Stores, a chain with operations in Northern California and the northwestern United States, with Los Angeles-based Sam Seelig Stores. In 1928, the new chain bought most of the west coast’s Piggly Wiggly stores, and later acquired Sanitary Stores in the Washington DC area as well as MacMarr Stores, another chain that Charles Merrill had assembled. Growth by merger became common in the late 1920s and 1930s, and led to numerous antitrust actions and attempts to tax the chain stores out of existence.

The Supermarket (1930s and 1940s):

As early at the 1920s, some chain grocers were experimenting with consolidated (albeit still rather small) stores that featured at least a small selection of fresh meats and produce along with the dry grocery items. In Southern California, Ralphs Grocery Company was expanding into much larger stores than had been seen before in most of the country. Los Angeles was also seeing the beginning of the “drive-in market” phenomenon, where several complimentary food retailers (a butcher, a baker, a grocer, and a produce vendor, for example) would locate within the same small shopping center surrounding a parking lot. These centers were often perceived by customers as a single entity, despite being under separate ownership.

In 1930, Michael Cullen, a former executive of both Kroger and A&P, opened his first King Kullen store, widely cited as America’s first supermarket, although others have some legitimate claim to that title as well. King Kullen was located in a warehouse on the fringes of New York City, and offered ample free parking and additional concessions in a bazaar-like atmosphere. Merchandise was sold out of packing cartons and little attention was paid to décor. The emphasis was on volume, with this one store projected to do the volume of up to one hundred conventional chain stores. The volume and the no frills approach resulted in considerably lower prices.

The supermarket, as it came to be known, was initially a phenomenon of independents and small, regional chains. Eventually, the large chains caught on as well, and they refined the concept, adding a level of sophistication that had been lacking from the spartan stores of the early 1930s. In the late 1930s, A&P began consolidating its thousands of small service stores into larger supermarkets, often replacing as many as five or six stores with one large, new one. By 1940, A&P’s store count had been reduced by half, but its sales were up. Similar transformations occurred among all the “majors” in fact, most national chains of the time saw their store counts peak around 1935 and then decline sharply through consolidation. Most chains operated both supermarkets and some old-style stores simultaneously for the next decade or so, either under the same name (like Safeway, A&P, and Kroger) , or under different banners (such as the Big Star stores operated by the David Pender Grocery Company in the southeast).

A&P and Safeway also entered Canada in the late 1920s and joined Loblaws and Dominion Stores as the major players at mid-century.

Suburbs and Shopping Centers (1950s and 1960s):

By the 1950s, the transition to supermarkets was largely complete, and the migration to suburban locations was beginning. Some chains were more aggressive with this move than others. A&P, for example, was very hesitant to expend the necessary capital and move outward, retaining smaller, outdated, urban locations for perhaps longer than was prudent. While the company tried to catch up in the 1960s, its momentum had vanished, and the once dominant chain eventually became something of an “also-ran.”

The 1950s and 1960s were seen my many as the golden age of the supermarket, with bright new stores opening on a regular basis, generating excited and glowing newspaper reports, and serving a marketplace that was increasingly affluent. Standardized designs, in use since the 1930s and 1940s, were refined and modernized, creating instantly recognizable and iconic buildings such as A&P’s colonial-themed stores the glass arch-shaped designs of Safeway, Penn Fruit, and others and the towering pylon signs of Food Fair and Lucky Stores. The modernist stores opened by Steinberg in Ontario and Québec are still striking today, despite their conversion to other brands like Provigo, Food Basics, and Metro.

Discounters and Warehouse Stores (1970s):

As changing tastes and zoning boards forced exteriors to become more “subdued” in the late 1960s, interiors began to compensate, with colorful designs evoking New Orleans or the “Gay 90s” or old farmhouses replacing the stark whites common to many stores of the 1950s. Other new touches included carpeting, specialty departments, and more. Kroger’s new “superstore” prototype, introduced in 1972, was perhaps the peak of this trend, with its specialty departments and its orange, gold, and green color palette.

Many shoppers, however, wondered what the costs of these amenities might be, and something of a backlash developed. This backlash was answered in the late 1960s with a new trend known as “discounting.”

Numerous stores around the country embarked on discounting programs at about the same time, most of which centered around the elimination of trading stamps, reduction in operating hours, and an emphasis on cost-cutting. Lucky Stores of California simply re-imaged their current stores and kept using the same name, while others opted for a hybrid format, with some stores operating traditionally and others (such as Colonial’s Big Star stores and Harris Teeter’s More Value in the southeast) open as discounters under different names.

A&P, as was its custom at the time, arrived somewhat late and unprepared for this party. It attempt at discounting, WEO (Warehouse Economy Outlet) was something of a disaster, plagued by distribution issues and by the fact that its numerous smaller and older stores were not capable of producing the volume required to make discounting work (but were converted anyway). This was one of several factors that preceded A&P’s major meltdown of the mid-1970s.

Upscale Stores, Warehouses, and Mergers (1980s and 1990s):

The market segmentation we see today grew out of the discounting movement as amplified in the 1980s. The middle range began to disappear, albeit slowly, as mainline stores went more “upscale” and low end stores moved more toward a warehouse model, evocative of the early supermarkets of the 1930s. Many chains operated at both ends of the spectrum, often under different names (Edwards and Finast was an example, as were the many A&P brands, from Futurestore to Sav-a-Center to Food Basics). In Canada, Loblaws pioneered with its No Frills franchises, often housed in former Loblaws locations, and the Oshawa Group opened Price Chopper warehouse stores in many of the Safeway locations it had recently purchased in Ontario. Others eliminated one end of the market completely, like Harris Teeter in North Carolina, which abandoned discounting entirely.

The re-emergence of superstores, featuring general merchandise and groceries under one roof accelerated this trend. Many such stores had opened in the early 1960s, some of them operated by chain grocers themselves. Only a few survived, Fred Meyer in Oregon being a noteworthy example, and “one stop shopping” seemed a relatively new and fresh idea when Kmart and Walmart tried it again, with considerably more success, starting around 1990. Loblaws opened Real Canadian Superstores, initially under a variety of locally varying names.

The other big trend during this time was toward mergers and leveraged buyouts. This affected almost all the major chains. A&P was sold to German interests. Safeway took itself private in 1987 to avoid a hostile takeover, and lost half its geographical reach in the process. Kroger slimmed down somewhat in 1988 for the same reasons, while Lucky was acquired by American Stores the same year. Another round of mergers in the 1990s placed American Stores in the hands of Albertsons, reunited Safeway with much of its former territory, and greatly increased the west coast presence of Kroger, making these three chains the dominant players in the industry, along with Walmart.


How to keep track of your Amazon order history

It used to be easy to download your Amazon order history report, but the order option disappeared recently, making it much more difficult to download your order information. Tons of people have been complaining about the issue in various forums, and when reaching out to Amazon customer service for answers, most got a canned response as to the reasoning.

One user, Kimberly, posted a question about access to the order history to Amazon customer support, noting that she used to download an order history report every week. Well, Kimberly finally got a real response from Amazon, but it still didn’t tell us much about why the order history feature is missing from user accounts.

Amazon stated, “We apologize for the inconvenience. The Order History Report tool has been deprecated.” Or, in other words, the tool was removed, but there isn’t a clear reason why that happened — not from the customer service response, anyway.

The only accounts that still have access to the tool are Amazon Prime Business accounts. Unfortunately, Amazon Prime Business accounts aren’t the same as regular Prime user accounts. These accounts are geared toward companies, organizations, entrepreneurs and other businesses.

The difference is that Amazon Business is built with businesses in mind and with it you get access to things like quantity discounts. You can also use different payment options with the Business account then you can with a regular Prime account. For example, you can use Amazon’s Corporate Credit, a corporate credit card, or make tax-exempt purchases.

You can also create multiple user groups for different business departments and you can use the order history tool to sort and document order history from each multi-user group. That isn’t possible with regular Amazon Prime accounts.

Luckily, you can still pull your order history with regular Prime accounts. If you’re trying to get your order history for your business account, you can follow the instructions below.

These reports can be pulled by the account administrators as well as orders placed by requisitioners who belong to the business account.

To create an Order History Report for Amazon Prime Business accounts:

  1. Go to Order History Reports in Your Account.
  2. Select the report type from the drop-down menu, then fill in the start date, end date and report name.
  3. Click Request Report.
  4. When the report is complete, you’ll receive an e-mail notification. To retrieve the report, visit Order History Reports and click Download.

The report includes the PO number, requisitioner name, order number, order status, buyer name, approver name (if any), group name (if any) and other order details.

If you’re trying to get your order history for your regular Prime account, though, you’ll need to follow the instructions below.


Downtown Department Stores

At their peak, Cleveland's downtown department stores anchored a lower Euclid Avenue that ranked among the largest retail districts in the United States and was compared to New York's stylish Fifth Avenue. Massive, multi-level stores (consisting of various "departments") were built on lower Euclid Avenue around the turn of the twentieth-century.

Heralded for their fanciful window displays and traditions like Halle's "Mr. Jingeling" and Sterling-Linder-Davis's magnificent 50-foot high Christmas tree, the stores drew thousands of shoppers downtown. A trip on the streetcar down to Halle's, Higbee's, May Company and Euclid Avenue's restaurants and ice cream parlors was for many Clevelanders an occasion that called for dressing up. The development of Playhouse Square in the 1920s added to the crowds and excitement along that stretch of Euclid Avenue.

After World War II, the growth of suburbs and shopping malls started to draw business away from downtown and Euclid Avenue. The department stores tried to compete, opening up suburban branches, but by the turn of the 21st century most of these local companies had been bought out by national chains, with their flagship downtown locations converted to other uses. The last of the giants, Higbee's, was purchased in 1992 by Arkansas-based Dillard's and closed its Terminal Tower store in 2002.

Gone but not forgotten, Higbee's became enshrined as a scene in the holiday film "A Christmas Story." Also, if you look closely, you can still glimpse reminders of Cleveland's grand department stores in the soaring terra cotta facade of the Halle Building or the bronze deco Higbee's plaques that adorn its old home on Public Square. Better yet, ask almost any Clevelander past a certain age about shopping on Euclid Avenue, and listen closely while they fondly recall childhood trips downtown.


Quickly View Search History Across All Browsers in Windows

When you talk about search history, most people are looking for a way to clear their search history or delete their search history, right? Whatever the reason for hiding their search history may be, an astute person reading this post will be able to VIEW the recent search history for all browsers of any computer using a simple and free program.

Basically, when you perform searches in Google, Yahoo, MSN or specific sites like Facebook or Twitter, the browser caches that search history onto the local computer in temp files. If you don’t manually delete the search history, someone can easily come along and view all of your previous searches.

Now in IE, Chrome and Firefox, you can open up the History sidebar or tab and view the most recently visited sites, but it would be a tedious process to open each browser individually to see the search history. In addition, you still would not be able to see the searches performed on social sites.

If you want to quickly view all of the most recent searches performed on a computer no matter which search engine or which browser has been used, check out a cool program called MyLastSearch.

MyLastSearch is a tiny 47KB program that doesn’t even require you to install it in order to use. It’s simply an .EXE file that can be run from a portable USB drive if you like! That means you can take it around and quickly connect it up to any computer and see the recent searches performed! This is a bad program if it gets into the wrong hands!

I ran the program on my computer and instantly got a bunch of search results back! It breaks it down into a table with Search Text, Search Engine, Search Type, Search Time, and which web browser the search was performed on.

It seems to work on Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and Alexa. You’ll have to try other search engines to see if it works on those, but most people are going to try one of those first. In my tests, everything worked as stated, but I was not able to see the search results for searches I performed on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. It could have been because I was not logged into either service, but I would think it should work without that requirement.

Of course, if you delete the cache and history files from your browser, MyLastSearch will not be able to find anything. So if you want to be safe and not have your search history readable by this program, you can read the article I linked to above about deleting search history. Basically, you can clear the local browsing history and you’ll be fine. In Firefox, you need to go to Tools (three horizontal bars), then Options, then click on Privacy and finally click on the clear your recent history link.

You can also click the dropdown next to Firefox will and choose Never Remember History so that you never have to worry about clearing your history manually. In IE, click on the Settings gear icon and choose Internet Options. On the General tab, click the Delete button under Browsing history. You can also check the Delete browsing history on exit so that browsing history is never stored in IE.

Lastly in Chrome, you click on the settings icon (three bars again) and then click on History. Finally, click on Clear browsing data and then choose how much of your history you want to remove. Chrome is the only browser that doesn’t have an option to not record history or to clear your browsing history on exit. Instead, you have to rely on third-party extensions click Click & Clean.

MyLastSearch is a quick and easy way to see search history on a Windows computer and it does a very good job overall. It’s worth noting that before you run the program, you should log off the computer and log back in, if possible. Some browsers do not write all data to the local cache until several minutes after being closed or until the user logs out of Windows, so you may not see all searches unless you first log off. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

Founder of Online Tech Tips and managing editor. He began blogging in 2007 and quit his job in 2010 to blog full-time. He has over 15 years of industry experience in IT and holds several technical certifications. Read Aseem's Full Bio


Watch the video: Разглядывание витрин. Санкт-Петербург. Window Shopping. St. Petersburg. 1900s