Focusing upon British retailing, the purpose of this paper is to review what is known both about the importance of different supply networks at different points in time, and about the attitudes of different groups of consumers towards these networks.
Relying primarily upon secondary sources, the paper discusses the ways in which the literature on retailing beyond the shop has developed during the past 40 years, and particularly during the past ten years or so.
The paper shows that although it is difficult to delineate the scale and importance of retailing beyond the shop, there is a growing consensus that shops were by no means the sole, or necessarily dominant, source of supply. It shows too that consumers' attitudes towards both commercial and non‐commercial exchanges were complex and sometimes contradictory, with non‐commercial transactions particularly difficult to disentangle and interpret. However, it should not be assumed, it is suggested, that notions of value and ties of reciprocity inevitably fell victim to the growing forces of industrialisation and urbanisation.
The paper adopts a broad chronological perspective and introduces readers to sources, evidence, ideas and concepts that shed light on British retail development and change.
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