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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2010

Andrew Alexander

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate some of the recent progress in the study of the history of retailing, with particular reference to analyses of the British retail

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1119

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate some of the recent progress in the study of the history of retailing, with particular reference to analyses of the British retail market during the twentieth century.

Design/methodology/approach

Three themes were addressed, each of which has significant potential to enhance our understanding of the historical development of the retail sector. The paper considered both conceptual and empirical contributions to the discussion on the history of retailing, with particular reference to the business management literature. The approach involved a review of recently published literature.

Findings

Whilst there have been a number of important additions of late to the retail history literature, considerable scope remains for engagement with, and contribution to, the theory building taking place within business management.

Practical implications

The author identifies some of the lacunae within research on the history of retailing.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates some of the ways in which the study of retailing history can be productively linked with debates within contemporary studies of business management.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 2 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 8 October 2018

Chinmay Tumbe and Shashank Krishnakumar

This paper aims to understand the factors affecting the evolution of retailing in India since the mid-nineteenth century.

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420

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to understand the factors affecting the evolution of retailing in India since the mid-nineteenth century.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper compares the trajectories of four distinct retail stores in India – Spencer’s pan-Indian retailing empire since 1863, Akbarallys’ department store chain in Mumbai since 1897, Apna Bazar’s consumer cooperative chain in Mumbai since 1948 and the Future Group’s pan-Indian retailing chain since the 1980s. Historical sources include firm biographies and newspaper archives.

Findings

This paper proposes a systems theory linking environmental influences and service innovation, to explain the evolution of retailing in India since the mid-nineteenth century. The key environmental influence on retailing has been state patronage – colonialism and high-end department stores until the 1940s, socialism and cooperative stores until the 1980s and liberalisation with restricted foreign direct investment in retailing until 2015 associated with indigenous corporate large retail format stores. Service innovation in terms of home delivery and recreation of the bazaar atmosphere due to norms on gender and community have also interacted to shape individual success in modern retailing and the dominance of small shop retailing over the long run.

Research limitations/implications

This paper questions standard accounts of retailing history in India that began with the late-twentieth century by showing the scale of a pan-Indian retailing chain in the early-twentieth century. It also provides an account of retailers that is missing in the current literature on the history of consumption in India.

Practical implications

Findings of this study will be useful to marketing professionals and teachers who wish to learn more about the history of retailing in India. It also shows how retailers navigated changes in the regulatory and business environment.

Originality/value

Through a comparative study, this paper outlines the environmental influences on retail formats and service innovation strategies that are required to serve the Indian market. It also brings to fore the significance of retailing chains in colonial India.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 4 November 2013

Daniel J. Sweeney

The purpose of this article is to review the historical development of William Davidson's Retailing Management book that spanned six editions and 35 years and to evaluate…

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172

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to review the historical development of William Davidson's Retailing Management book that spanned six editions and 35 years and to evaluate its impact on retailing practice and education during that time period.

Design/methodology/approach

A participation-observation approach is used by the author whose personal involvement as a co-author of Davidson's book and as a professional colleague of Davidson provided him with unique insights into the development of retailing management and its impact on the profession of retailing. A critical review of Davidson's book is informed by personal reflections of the author.

Findings

The 50 years during which Davidson was an active scholar, consultant and businessman were very dynamic in terms of the changes that took place in the environment of retailing, the practice of retailing and the study of retailing. Throughout this period, the academic discipline of retailing changed a great deal, moving through eight very significant intellectual transitions. Davidson was an important participant and contributor to the advancement of the study of retailing throughout this half-century and led the move through most of these great transitions. This contribution is evident in the evolution of retailing management over its 35-year history.

Originality/value

No such prior review and critical evaluation has been published.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 5 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 4 November 2013

Ellen McArthur

– The purpose of this paper is to present historical research on marketing practices in department stores of the 1880-1930 period using primary source records from Australia.

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1237

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present historical research on marketing practices in department stores of the 1880-1930 period using primary source records from Australia.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws from primary records including retail trade journals, mass circulation newspapers, and other contemporary sources, but mainly from the archives of The Master Retailers' Association (MRA). The MRA was the dominant industry employers' organisation in Australia, and possibly the first retail association of its kind in the Western world. Secondary sources have also been used to supplement the primary records, and to provide context, and cross-cultural comparisons.

Findings

The findings demonstrate the antecedents of a range of marketing practices that today we presume are modern, including sales promotion, trade promotion, direct mail, destination retailing, advertising, and consumer segmentation. This supports other scholars' research into marketing's long history.

Originality/value

This paper contributes original knowledge to the neglected field of Australian marketing history and connects the pioneering practices of retailers to the broader field of marketing. While some outstanding retail histories exist for the USA, UK, and France, the Australian story has remained largely uncovered.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 5 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 4 November 2013

Robert D. Tamilia

The purpose of this paper is to give tribute to William R. Davidson and his pioneering work with Management Horizons, the retail consultancy he cofounded along with…

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140

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to give tribute to William R. Davidson and his pioneering work with Management Horizons, the retail consultancy he cofounded along with numerous contributions he and the firm made to marketing thought and retail knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

The essay relies on the corporate history of Management Horizons as well as other publications.

Findings

A more complete picture emerges of Davidson's role in bridging the world of academia with the world of practitioners involved in retailing and wholesaling.

Research limitations/implications

The essay discusses Davidson's contributions to marketing as they relate to Management Horizons. But not all his contributions to marketing and retailing thought are presented.

Practical implications

Real life examples related to marketing thought and retail practices are discussed.

Originality/value

The essay offers a unique review of Davidson's role in the creation of one of the most important retail consultancies of the twentieth century.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 5 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2010

Nicholas Alexander

The purpose of this paper is to consider the value of history within a contemporary retail management and marketing context.

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833

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to consider the value of history within a contemporary retail management and marketing context.

Design/methodology/approach

The progress that has been made in incorporating historical methods and history into the retail management and marketing literature was considered.

Findings

The paper explains how history is able to develop understanding in research areas that are by their nature oriented toward contemporary concerns.

Research limitations/implications

The importance of maintaining an historical perspective and not allowing the present to determine an understanding of the past are emphasised. That is, for research to understand the past on its own terms and for the past to help determine an understanding of the present.

Practical implications

The paper explores practical implications for the study of history in the retail management and marketing context.

Originality/value

The paper addresses the dilemma researchers facing in subject areas where it is much easier to see history as a precursor to current activities, rather than as an opportunity to explore questions in different contexts and within longer time frames.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 2 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 27 June 2018

Johan Kask and Frans Prenkert

Retail has evolved over the past century alongside megatrends such as urbanization, consumerism and digitalization. To contribute to existing knowledge on patterns of…

Abstract

Purpose

Retail has evolved over the past century alongside megatrends such as urbanization, consumerism and digitalization. To contribute to existing knowledge on patterns of retail form evolution, the purpose of this paper is to investigate when and how novel retail forms have evolved in the Swedish sporting goods market.

Design/methodology/approach

An evolutionary approach that encompasses population thinking is used to interpret the history of sporting goods retailing in Sweden from the interwar era onwards. Drawing on archival data and interviews, the focus in the historical analysis is on the evolution of retail form variation in terms of size, strategy, product range and retail channel (online/offline).

Findings

The paper suggests that evolutionary mechanisms cumulatively have changed the sports retail population from a rather homogenous set of smaller generalist stores toward a larger variety and specialization in mainly two directions: one trajectory toward small and service-focused niche specialists and the other toward high-volume sales outlets.

Originality/value

The paper provides a detailed empirical account of sports retail history in Sweden and an application of theoretical concepts contributing to an integrated investigation of empirical issues and theoretical positions. It concludes that being able to attain “closures” – finding ways to close off a section of the market and avoid direct competition – has historically been a crucial capability for individual retailers to thrive.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 24 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

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Article
Publication date: 26 August 2021

Rorie Parsons

Whilst plastic packaging has recently been critiqued for its detrimental effects on the environment, it is largely overlooked in histories of food retailing. This paper…

Abstract

Purpose

Whilst plastic packaging has recently been critiqued for its detrimental effects on the environment, it is largely overlooked in histories of food retailing. This paper presents a historical perspective on plastic packaging, highlighting its role in transforming UK food retailing throughout the middle to late twentieth century.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on an analysis of the Marks & Spencer Company Archive, supplemented by company histories and biographical sources. Three examples were purposively selected based on their technologically innovative role in maintaining and enhancing Marks & Spencer's core values.

Findings

The analysis highlights plastic packaging's significance in enabling Marks & Spencer's product development process whilst maintaining and enhancing the company's core values of standards, quality, safety, freshness, hygiene and convenience. The examples demonstrate the role of plastics in technological innovation, achieving key commercial objectives in product development and contributing to the transformation of food retailing.

Research limitations/implications

The research focuses on three specific examples of packaging innovation, drawing out their wider implications for socio-technical change in UK food retailing.

Originality/value

This historical research suggests that greater attention should be paid to plastic packaging including its material properties and the services it provides, moving beyond a blanket condemnation by acknowledging its multiple affordances in the food sector. These historical insights are instructive when thinking about the future of retailing and shopping in the context of the need for better environmental outcomes.

Details

British Food Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0007-070X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1987

Stephen Brown

Three basic approaches to retail institutional change can be discerned in the last 30 years. The first contends that institutional evolution is a function of developments…

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3889

Abstract

Three basic approaches to retail institutional change can be discerned in the last 30 years. The first contends that institutional evolution is a function of developments in the socio‐economic environment. The second argues that change occurs in a cyclical fashion. The third considers inter‐institutional conflict to be the mainspring of retail change. None of those approaches is found to be entirely satisfactory, and a series of combination theories has been posited. It is argued that regional institutional change is the result of environmental forces and a cycle‐like sequence of inter‐institutional conflict.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 21 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 20 March 2009

Terrence H. Witkowski

Through an account of the layout, operations, and four main product lines of a small Chicago bookstore between 1938 and 1947, the purpose of this paper is to show how a…

Abstract

Purpose

Through an account of the layout, operations, and four main product lines of a small Chicago bookstore between 1938 and 1947, the purpose of this paper is to show how a neighborhood retail establishment reacted to the sweeping events of the Great Depression and World War II.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is based upon multiple primary data sources including store financial records, family photographs, representative artifacts and ephemera, oral history interviews, and period retailing literature.

Findings

Located in an area of Chicago heavily populated by Polish and Jewish immigrants and their children, General Book Store was a traditional mom and pop operation. The mix of its product lines – books and magazines, model kits, greeting cards, and camera supplies and photo‐finishing – evolved over time while always connecting customers to the national experience. The store afforded its owners a modest, but upwardly mobile middle‐class life style.

Originality/value

Although much has been written on large‐scale retailing, marketing historians have conducted very little research on small‐scale retailing in the USA. This study documents the intermingling of a business and a household economy and how the management of merchandise assortments and maintenance of customer relationships depended upon both owner interests and the opportunities and constraints presented by environmental forces.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

Keywords

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