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Littlewoods Catalogue Home Shopping
1960: THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION

YEARS OF AFFLUENCE

With TV advertising and greater prosperity came an explosion in consumer goods, and a great many more labour-saving devices were on sale to make life in the home easier for a housewife and her family and thus provide more time for leisure and relaxation.

By sociological consent, 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.

littlewoods catalogue cover 1960

There were not many houses without indoor lavatories, running water and electric light. And fridges, vacuum cleaners and electric kettles had long since ceased to be luxuries. Television and the telephone were standard facilities in the vast majority of homes and a majority of families owned a car. Schools were more modem and better equipped. National Service ended, and Life Peers began.

In 1964 4 million Britons holidayed abroad; while at home almost 200,000 caravans took to the summer roads (including the new motorways) after Dr Richard Beeching had destroyed the railway network by closing huge numbers of stations and vital branch lines. The satirical magazine Private Eye was founded in 1962, a year before the Beatles answered the call of the young for their own icons.

CREDIT VERSUS THE 'NEVER NEVER

Britain was becoming a credit driven society, and in the decade up to 1962, Moores opened three new credit businesses offering delivery of goods in advance of even one payment (a facility which beat the "never-never" arrangements of the hire purchase traders).

Bob Lancaster, Director - Home Shopping Division, Littlewoods Catalogue, sees this move from cash to credit as a significant break with the traditions of the "shilling clubs". "Looking back, it was perhaps the most important single development in the history of home shopping".

littlewoods catalogue page 1960

Littlewoods celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 1962 with Spring and Autumn catalogues offering a choice of articles that would have been unimaginable when it was launched.

Home Shopping eagerly embraced the emerging marvels of electronic engineering, and the 1962 Spring volume listed transistor radios at 12/12; one of the first compact car radios at 21 10/6; and tape recorders at 26/15/- (a price which, 30 years later, would actually have fallen with the arrival of the microchip!).

There were electronic irons at 57/6 and 51/-; lawnmowers from 5 to 13 5/6; fashionable new cameras from 6 8/- to 16 17/-, against an end-of-era box camera at 55/6. There was even a zoom cine camera at 55 and a projector for 34 13/-, with a slide projector listed at just under 20. An automatic teamaker was priced at 20 5/-; an electric food mixer at 14/13/6; a liquidiser at 5 6/-; and a 2kw convector heater at 5 17/-. Electric sewing machines listed at 38/7/- and shoppers snapped up electric knitting machines at 31 10/-, together with electric floor polishers at 17 13/-.

littlewoods catalogue page 1960 p2

Truly portable electric typewriters sold for just under 20 and a portable gramophone for 21. As more young people took to the great outdoors for their holidays, sleeping bags (6 17/6) and camp beds (2 19/6) were popular purchases. A twin tub washing machine (90 13/- ) was reckoned to be within the reach of most pockets on credit terms.