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1948: Wood Green M&S introduces "first full-fledged version of self-service in UK"

Wood Green was the pioneer of self-service shopping, according to David Kynaston in his brilliant portrait of post-war Britain, Austerity Britain 1945-1951.

In January 1948, Marks and Spencer introduced at its Wood Green store what the historian of English shopping, Kathryn Morrison called the "first full-fledged version of self-service in the UK"

Kynaston explains that it was only in the food department but in style and layout it was "unmistakably on the American model". It was reported by Store magazine in February that...'so far, at least,...shoppers are well pleased with the innovation, several writing to express their satisfaction to the store manager."

Kynaston comments, however, that early users were "sufficiently cautious that in the first few weeks their number of purchases per visit rarely rose above two or three"

Taken from Austerity Britain 1945-1951 pp 256

Images from Mylearning.org 

Tags for Forum Posts: m&s, marks and spencer, self-service, wood green

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Replies to This Discussion

Interesting. I don't remember an M+S in Wood Green until after Shopping City was built. But I do have a bad Memory! 

Looking in a book by Christine Protz we found at Bruce Castle Museum today (not her Tottenham one), it appears the M&S has always been at the same spot, although looked very different to what it is today. 

I have this and David Kynaston's previous book (covering the period of the Second World War). Both are fascinating as he uses the Mass Observation archives so you get a real sense of what people were actually saying and doing at the time rather than relying on newspaper reporting. Happy to lend them out if anyone would like a read.

Fascinating! So M and S in Wood Green were the pioneers in self-service. But just look at how many staff they have available there! And all of them women… interesting. Thanks Liz!

 I love " extract ... payment "

eek…. painful. Sainsburys extract quite painlessly… 



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