Shopping is a massive part of our culture, with many millions of customers passing through our high streets and markets every day looking for the perfect item or latest bargain.
We all do it, whether offline or online. From popping to the corner shop for the newspaper, trekking to the supermarket for the weekly groceries or logging onto Amazon to buy the latest bestseller, shopping of all kinds has a huge place in our lives.
Whether you are a shopaholic or try to avoid it at all costs, here are some interesting facts about shopping that you probably didn’t already know!
1. The UK’s First Supermarket Customers Were Too Scared To Select Goods
As people were used to being served by staff behind a counter, and having all their items collected and wrapped for them, the concept of picking up products for themselves seemed totally alien and they were worried they might get told off for touching the products!.
As many people regarded colleting their groceries as an opportunity to stop for a chat with staff or other customers, self-service shopping took a while to become popular with the general public.
In 1947 there were just 10 self-service shops in the UK, although it had been popular in America for over a decade by this time.
2. The UK Tea Industry Is Worth Around £700 Million Per Year
Around 165m cups of tea are drunk each day in the UK, meaning nearly 80% of the population enjoy at least one cup every day.
As one of the most traditional drinks, tea has been brewed in the UK for nearly 400 years and is imported from all over the world. 140 thousand tonnes of tea make their way through British ports each year, mainly from Malawi, Kenya and Zimbabwe to eventually reach our supermarkets and shops.
The largest teabag manufacture in the UK is Unilever, who markets PJ Tips and Typhoo another popular brand is Twinings.
3. London’s Famous Oxford Street Is the Longest High Street in Europe
At a length of a mile and a half and housing 67 stores including the original Selfridges, Gap and Zara, it is a haven for shoppers of any type.
As home to many flagship stores it attracts people from all over the world, the first Topshop store is still there today, after its beginnings as ‘Peter Robinson’s Topshop’ which was originally a concession within Peter Robinsons department store which was sadly destroyed in the Blitz, then was relaunched in 1964 solely as Topshop.
Despite its size there is only one pub in Oxford Street, The Tottenham has been there since the 19th century when it was opened under the name The Flying Horse.
4. The British Are The Biggest Online Shoppers in Europe
According to recent studies the UK spends more online than any other country within Europe, with sales predicted to reach £52.25 billion in 2015 a massive 16% increase from the £44.97 billion generated in 2014.
In the UK an average of £1,174 is estimated to be spent online by each shopper in comparison to £588 in Sweden, which has the slowest growth rate within Europe and £206 per person in Poland which spends the least but has a healthy growth rate of 14.2%.
Germany has the fastest growing internet sales in Europe with a growth rate of 14.9% while England is at a steady 9.6%. In 2015 it is estimated that 15.2% of all retail sales within the UK will be made online.
With the ability to easily compare prices, find bargains, use discount coupons and source difficult to find products, it’s small wonder that shopping online has become the mode of choice for many Britons.
5. Twenty Seven Jars Of Marmite Are Bought Every Minute In Britain
Whether you love it or hate it Marmite has been a staple item in many British cupboards since the first Marmite factory was built in Burton-on- Trent over 110 years ago in 1902, where is still stands today.
Over its long lifespan Marmite has had many different looks and advertising campaigns although it has never lost its distinctive black and yellow branding, in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee it was temporarily renamed as ‘Ma’amite.
6. Women Are More Likely To Spot Offers
Research has shown that men are far less likely to see special offers and are generally less effective shoppers than women. This is believed to be mainly simply because women tend to be more practiced in the art of shopping than their male counterparts and feel more comfortable in a retail environment.
As, on the whole, women have developed the ability to shop on ‘auto pilot’ subconsciously selecting the products and brands that they require, they are also more likely to be attuned to noticing the red and yellow signs used to advertise value products and special offers.
On the other hand men are more likely to need to use their full concentration to seek out the products that they need, so will be less likely to take in other information around them. It was also found that men tend to take longer doing a large shop than women and tend to find shopping more tiring.
7. The Concept Of Online Shopping Was Invented In The UK
In 1979 Michael Aldrich invented online shopping, by using a modified domestic television set connected to a real-time multi-user transaction processing computer using a telephone line.
By using the modem and auto-dialer that was within a television set with teletext capabilities he realised that he could connect the modem to a central server and enable companies to make transactions and sell products such as groceries through the television.
This process was known as teleshopping or Videotex, and although it never caught on that well with consumers, the first online shopping orders were placed using this system although customers has to pay on delivery as online payment methods were not yet available.
8. The First Harrods Store Was In Stepney East London
Charles Henry Harrod originally operated his store from one room, selling only tea and groceries with the help of two assistants and a messenger boy, later moving to Knightsbridge in 1834 and opening the store that still stands there today.
Now one of the most famous luxury department stores globally, its iconic building and quality goods attract an average of 100,000 visitors from all over the world every day, sometimes reaching as many as 300,000 during busy shopping periods such as Christmas.
The author A.A Milne bought his son Christopher Robin the teddy bear that was later to become the famous Winnie the Pooh as a gift from Harrods.
9. Products On Emptier Shelves Tend To Sell More Quickly
This behaviour pattern is referred to as ‘social proofing’ as psychologists and shows that people are more inclined to buy a product if they believe others have as well, as it provides them with a sense of reassurance that it must be a worthwhile deal. However if shelves look overfilled or a display is untouched shoppers tend to be reluctant to purchase products.
There is also an element of an emptier shelf giving the implication that the product may run out of stock soon, which also makes people more likely to want to make sure they make the purchase while they can.
10. Wednesdays Are The Most Popular Shopping Day
Nobody likes Wednesdays and that’s a fact. Almost as unpopular as Mondays, afternoons on the “hump day” of the week often leave workers depressed, looking ahead to the rest of the week stretching out before them until the joys of the weekend. So how do we deal with mid-week boredom?
Well, apparently we shop online. Research has shown that 4 PM on a Wednesday is the time of the week when most people in the UK surf the web to make purchases.
11. Brits Eat 11 Kilos Of Chocolate Every Year
Britain is well known as one of the world’s top chocolate munching countries. The UK’s chocolate retail industry is worth around £4 billion a year and the average Briton gobbles their way through an astounding 11 kilos of chocolate annually.
This is more even than the Belgians who are well known for their love of high quality confectionery.
12. Bargain Hunters Love Drawers
eBay has deservedly earned its reputation as one of the top ways to sell your unwanted stuff and to buy all kinds of things from fashion and furnishings to toys and gadgets.
It goes without saying that some of the top selling items on eBay UK are top brand technology items like iPods and mobile devices, however it may surprise you to know that the top furniture item searched for by UK users is the humble “chest of drawers”.
Averaging two searches a minute and fetching a rough sale price of £52, maybe it’s time to do a spot of home redecoration.
13. Some Of The World’s Most Expensive Food In the World Is Sold In The UK
The UK has the dubious honour of being home to some of the most expensive food items that can be purchased in the world.
One of these amazingly extortionate gourmet treats is a rare Iranian caviar sold in an opulent 24 karat gold tin and costing a whopping £14,720 from the Caviar House & Prunier.
Anyone desperate to find out what the fuss is all about could always shell out for the small tin which costs a mere £736.
14. Most Expensive Harrod’s Purchase Was A Private Yacht
Harrods is possibly the world’s most famous department store. Known globally for its high prices, designer labels and Royal warrant, this distinguished British institution regularly turns over more than £700 million a year.
From best selling tourist items like the standard shopping bag and teddy bears to ridiculously overpriced food products, there is a plethora of choice for shoppers with deep pockets.
However, the most expensive item ever sold by Harrods was a spectacular luxury yacht called Project Mars which featured a private gym, jacuzzi and a staff of 34. Placed on sale for £100 million, it probably wasn’t at the top of most casual tourists’ shopping lists.
15. 1 Out Of 20 Women Own Over 50 Pairs Of Shoes
Women love shoes, that’s a fact that’s been known and acknowledged for generations. Now figures have shown that British women spend over £3 billion a year on footwear with Christian Louboutin ranking as the nation’s favourite shoe designer.
One out of every 20 women has a staggering 50 pairs or more and one in eight women regularly argue with their partner over their heels obsession.
Despite the popularity of designer brands, the average amount spent on a pair of shoes in the UK is around £40, with high heels being a more popular choice than flats. Those with a shoe fetish should head to Selfridge’s shoe department which is the largest in the world with over 100,000 pairs in stock.
16. Women Really Do Love Shopping
It’s generally accepted that women like shopping more than men do, but did you know that the average woman thinks about fashion an astounding 91 times a day?
That means thoughts about the latest trends are on the average lady’s mind every 11 minutes and 23 seconds.
Not only do women think about fashion all day long, but they spend a disproportionate amount of time researching it too. Most women look at clothing retailers’ websites no less than six times a day, and 62% of them find themselves distracted from work by thoughts about buying a new outfit.
17. Some Of The Oldest Department Stores Are In The UK
Department stores are as popular today as they were when they were first invented. The UK is home to some of the oldest in the world, and there are several hot contenders for the oldest department store in the world on our home shores.
One of these is Austin’s in Derry, Northern Ireland, which dates back to 1830. This iconic store is still open today, serving the local community.