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M&S Introduces Self Service

Imagine a world where you can’t choose your own shopping! No baskets, no trolleys, no shelves and aisles. Until 1948 you had to ask the sales assistant to select and pack every item of your shopping for you.

M&S store Woodgreen in London in 1948
M&S Woodgreen 1948

It was in 1948 that M&S became the first ever company in Britain to trial self-service food shopping. The experiment at the Wood Green store in London was a great success and by the 1950s M&S self-service sections were a normal part of shopping. The new packaging was admired by customers for keeping the food fresh and clean. To help people understand the new system, M&S produced a leaflet with simple hints for successful shopping (see Resources).

M&S Woodgreen store in 1948
M&S Woodgreen 1948