Early closing day

southdown 2A trip out shopping in the 1960s could be a minefield.

First of all, there was no Sunday shopping. None. Zero. Shops simply did not open on Sundays, even in London. If you ran out of something, you waited until Monday. There was no “popping out” to top-up the store cupboard, let alone a full weekly shop.

Second, you needed to know which day was early closing day. All town and even most cities closed one afternoon a week to make up for being open on Saturday mornings. And just like Sunday, by closed I mean closed: everything shut up shop and everyone went home.

Third, there were no supermarkets until later into the decade, so a trip to the shops involved walking between multiple shops – the grocer, the greengrocer, the fishmonger, the butcher, the baker, the ironmonger – for each of the items you wanted. To a bored child being dragged from dull store to dull store, this was hell. If you were really unlucky, the shopping would take place on Market Day and you’d also be dragged from boring stall to boring stall, sometimes almost crying out in boredom.

Fourth, there were no cash machines. To get money, you went into a bank – your own bank, the high street banks didn’t co-operate – and made a cheque out to “cash” or to “self”. In bigger stores, you paid by cheque. If you were a regular and were trusted, some local stores might run you a monthly tab, which you paid by cash or cheque – there were no direct debits and no credit cards either.

From a 1960s point of view, it’s hard to imagine how shopping could become the national pastime it now is; likewise, from a modern perspective, the laborious nature of shopping can’t be imagined either.

Archive source: http://retropia.co.uk/

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