Despite the publication of several studies examining European retailing in relation to the USA, there is still a dearth of recent research, in English, that explores the development of retailing in specific European countries (with the obvious exception of Britain), over the twentieth century. Even for the UK, more research is needed to challenge claims such as the alleged "backwardness" of British retailing relative to North America, or the presence of formidable "environmental" barriers to the "industrialisation" of retailing in Britain.
New Perspectives on 20th Century European Retailing showcases new research on various aspects of twentieth century European retailing, that challenges the traditional view that Europe was a "follower" of America in retail innovation. It brings together work by several - mainly early career - scholars, who are doing innovative, archival-based, research on various aspects of European retail history. Following a general review of European retailing by the editors (discussing key debates and new approaches) seven thematic chapters present work that either sheds new light on old debates and/or explores hitherto neglected topics. Collectively, they show that whereas retailers are often regarded as 'intermediaries', in fact they are actors in their own right and they challenge the traditional view that Europe was a "follower" of America in retail innovation.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the Business History journal.
Peter Scott is Professor of International Business History at the University of Reading's Henley Business School. His research interests include the history of retailing, consumer durables, household consumption, inequality, living standards, the house-building sector, working hours, and path dependence.
Patrick Fridenson is Professor of International Business History at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. His research interests include the strategies, innovations, performances, and ethics of business enterprises in relation to consumers and to the regulatory and social environment in international perspective (comparisons between France, Germany, the US and Japan). He has worked on several industries: coal, automobile, aircraft, electronics and on working hours.
Introduction: New perspectives on 20th-century European retailing
Peter Scott and Patrick Fridenson
1. Managing business performance: The contrasting cases of two multiple retailers 1920 to 1939
2. More than window dressing: visual merchandising and austerity in London's West End, 1945-50
3. Turning regulation into business opportunities: A brief history of French food mass retailing (1949-2015)
Adam Dewitte, Sebastian Billows and Xavier Lecocq
4. The state, small shops and hypermarkets: A public policy for retail, France, 1945-1973
5. Unlocking the padlock: Retail and public policy in Belgium (1930-1961)
6. Resistance to Inequality as a Competitive Strategy? - The Cases of the Finnish consumer Co-ops Elanto and HOK 1905-2015
Anitra Komulainen and Sakari Siltala