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Littlewoods Catalogue Home Shopping
7 decades of Mail Order shopping in the UK

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Social history of Littlewoods Mail Order Catalogue and Catalogue Home Shopping from the early 1930's upto the present day.

This web site describes the changes and major events that have taken place over the past 7 decades including: the change from "mail order" via post, to "mail order" via telephone (telephone ordering) to todays "mail order" via the web .

Pictures include covers of Littlewoods Home Shopping catalogues over the past 70 years and types and prices of product! How much was a Gas iron in the 1940s? or a Hotpoint washing machine in the Seventies?

The social changes and leisure patterns of customers that drive these changes, relfect the change in UK society over 3 generations.

Scroll down or use the navigation on the left to choose the decade of your choice.

littlewoods home shopping catalogue cover 1930 (35K)
1930s Already flourishing in America through Sears Roebuck, mail order shopping became an important sector of the retail trade in Britain with the entry into the market of Littlewoods in 1932. Littlewoods Mail Order in the 1930s 1940s The War Years
Thousands of men and women did their war service in the Littlewoods Army.
We made Wellington bombers and saw them fly
Littlewoods Catalogue in the 1940s
1950s The Littlewoods Home Shopping catalogue of that year showed how tight money had become, with manufacturers starting the unwelcome trend of slipping an odd shilling on to a round figure sum - or, even Worse, moving up to just under the next round figure.
Was this the start of 9.99 pricing
Littlewoods Catalogue in the 1950s
1960s The lower and middle classes were more prosperous at the start of the 1960s than ever before. Young people, particularly, saw their wealth amount at last to a formidable size, and they made the most of it. The home shopping catalgoue markplace has more to spend...
Littlewoods Catalogue in the 1960s
1970s There were plenty of new lines on offer, including electric can openers, coffee makers and hot plates; tumble driers and spin driers and the electric overblanket joined the underblanket. The first rotary clothes lines went on sale for 4.49.
Littlewoods Catalogue in the 1970s
1980s Price rises over the previous decade were felt keenly in the Littlewoods home shopping catalogues but, as always, the home shopping service provided not merely a more convenient but also a cheaper altermative.
Littlewoods Catalogue in the 1980s
1990s This decade saw home shopping - mail order sales nationwide totalled at 3.56bn: Littlewoods' share was 933m (28%). And compared with 1932, the cost of many articles has gone up by less than the approximate hundredfold increase common to many sectors of the general retail index.
Littlewoods Catalogue in the 1990s
2000s Go to the Littlewoods Web site and check it out for yourself.
Littlewoods Catalogue today


There have been dramatic changes in almost every aspect of family life over the past three generations but, 60 years ago, when the social revolution was restlessly stirring, conditions were indeed ripe for change.

"An analysis of Littlewoods' mail order catalogues over that entire period shows just how significant those changes have been", said social historian Denis Frost. "Today's average housewife and mother spends only three hours a day cooking and doing the housework.

"That would have been unthinkable for her counterpart in the early 1930s, who was no more than a slave to the housework. Without a doubt, the advent of home shopping (including Littlewoods Catalogue) has made an impressive contribution to the social revolution for women".