Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

A Snapshot of M&S Packaging Through Time

The images here and on the next page represent a snapshot of how packaging has been developed at M&S over the years - some of the highlights are listed below and you can download the full timeline (in either PowerPoint or PDF format) using the links below.

M&S paper bag with an illustration of their head office and a list of stores in the country
1903 -1905 M&S Branded Paper Bag
Pre-1900 - M&S sold small, simply packaged items such as buttons in the Penny Bazaars
1900s - First M&S branded carrier bags, the earliest had an illustration of the Head Office building in Manchester and listed all the stores in the country
1930s - Luxury goods were sold alongside the core homewares, and paper bags featuring art deco designs gave out a message of elegance and sophistication 
Paper bag with an art deco illustration of two women in front of a mirror
1930s M&S Branded Paper Bag with Art Deco Design
1959 - The St Michael brand name was featured extensively on packaging, with nearly 3,000 tons of paper being used for 410 million bags and carriers in this year alone
White paper bag with simple green M&S logo
1950s M&S Branded Paper Bag
1969 -  Plastic was becoming more popular as a packaging material, and at the end of the 1960s the long-term plan was to stop using paper bags altogether and replace them with plastic carriers

White plastic bag with green logo of the St Michael brand name
1970s M&S Plastic Bag
1972 - Sell-by dates first appeared on M&S packaging
1980s - M&S started to recycle plastic clothes hangers, meaning that the company saved money and was also looking after the planet
Cardboard food packaging showing recycling information
M&S Food packaging Showing Recycle Logos

1991 - People were beginning to understand that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment, and so M&S created a strong re-usable carrier bag that cost 15p

2008 - M&S  introduced a 5p charge for large food carrier bags with profits from sales of the bags going to charity
Green plastic bag with 'Your' M&S logo
M&S 100% Recycled Plastic Bag
2015 - M&S continue to look for ways to improve packaging to help keep food fresh for longer and reduce food waste.



Art Deco - a style in art that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s
Elegance - grace and beauty
Illustration - a picture or image; a drawing 
Luxury - something that is not essential but that people like to have because it is special (can be expensive)
Sophistication - showing good taste and wisdom