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Littlewoods Catalogue Home Shopping
1970s: YEARS OF UNCERTAINTY

ELECTRONIC INNOVATION

A 14% devaluation of the pound shattered Britain's insular complacency. The outside world intruded (most spectacularly when a man walked on the moon, which the nation saw on colour television) and the UK embarked once again on a course of doubt and irresolution, compounded by an outbreak of savage violence in Northern Ireland.

Economically, inflation started to matter as the cost of living rose. It stood at 6.4% in 1970 but, by 1974, after decimalisation and a massive rise in oil prices, inflation soared to 15.9%.

Littlewoods' 1972 catalogues were the last before Britain joined the Common Market. Catalogue shoppping once again reflected the increasing pace of electronic innovation. They also mirrored the economic downturn and the effects of the new currency.

littlewoods catalogue cover 1970

But 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.

And home shopping maintained its competitive edge against not just the supernarkets, but the discount houses too.

A portable radio was listed now as costing "6.65, or 20 weeks at 33p a week"; the traditional -but much flashier -three-piece suite cost 75.75, or 1.51 a week over no fewer than 50 weeks. A Hotpoint washing machine was priced at 131.29 (50 weeks at 2.52), and a Hoovermatic at 10:3.85.

littlewoods catalogue page 1970

For parents of young families, a deluxe pram cost 19.95, a pushchair 15.95, a playpen 19.60 and the first car babyseats 10.85. A trendy leather swivel armchair was listed at 37.50 and a divan with headboard cost 29.95 (the practice of rounding up to just under the next pound was firn11y entrenched).

For the kitchen, a 51-piece dinner and tea set was still very reasonably priced at 9.85; a three-piece aluminium saucepan set cost 3.80 and a pressure cooker 10.48. New gadgets included a food slicer for 5.50, sets of non-stick pans for 7.99 and food mixers priced at 9.85.

An upright vacuum cleaner was listed at 41.80 and the most innovative gadget of all, a dishwasher, cost 112.25.

Cine cameras were as plentiful as box cameras had once been and were listed at a range from 43.30 to 79.65.

The "cabinet gramophone" had been refined into a sleek stereogram at 96.25 (50 weeks at 1.9:3).

littlewoods catalogue page 1970p3

At 7.85 an electric shaver cost twice as much as an iron; hair curlers, anew invention, cost 8.70.

The first rotary clothes lines went on sale for 4.49, and the first garden rotavators cost 69.95.

Other leisure and labour-saving devices included instant cameras from 4.30, polaroids from 7.30, electric sewing machines from 36.95, and an electric guitar at 24.05.

The cheapest man's watch was listed at 3 (9.99 for a Swiss one), and a young man could still buy a diamond engagement ring for 16.95.

littlewoods catalogue
FEMINISM

The early 1970s saw the politicisation of advertising's portrayal of life, and a vigorous anger developing in the feminist movement's view of what constituted the new male offences of sexism, racism, chauvinism, and stereotyping.

Towards the end of the decade the rise of international feminism promised in Britain another startling sea-change in feminine perceptions of a country where the ruler and chief minister were women of extraordinary character and accomplishment. Yet it was calculated that housewives still spent 40 hours a week and walked 52 miles doing household chores, including no fewer than 21 hours in the kitchen alone.

Chicken replaced beef as the nation's favourite Sunday roast, and coffee almost caught up tea as the preferred non-alcoholic drink. Hollywood started specialising in disaster movies and "big" adventure films (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, Jaws), and the drop in audiences was stemmed as younger people forsook a night of TV for the exotic pleasure of 'going out.'

By 1976 there were 19 local radio stations. The contraceptive pill was widely available: strangely, illegitimacy had increased threefold in the past 20 years and the pill seemed unable to stem the flow of unplanned births. In 1975 15.5 million vehicles jammed the roads of Britain, and in the following year the Queen pressed a button to start the flow of North Sea oil.

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Top Shows, Music and Films you where watching
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TOP 10 SINGLES
No Year Song Title Artist
1 1977 Mull Of Kintyre Wings
2 1978 Rivers Of Babylon / Brown Girl In The Ring Boney M
3 1978 You're The One That I Want John Travolta & Olivia Newton John
4 1978 Mary's Boy Child - Oh My Lord Boney M
5 1978 Summer Nights John Travolta & Olivia Newton John
6 1978 Y.M.C.A Village People
7 1975 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
8 1979 Heart Of Glass Blondie
9 1976 Don't Give Up On Us David Soul
10 1973 Merry Xmas Everybody Slade


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