Shopping madness in the newspapers | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Pushing girls through windows and throwing punches in the street: What would you do for a bargain?




The Christmas rush is over, but now it is time for the January sales to begin.  A search through the newspaper archive for bargain hunting mishaps proved shockingly easy. It turns out that shoppers throughout history have been prepared to go to incredible ends to get a good deal, with confrontations often leading to brawls on the streets. However, not everyone was so ruthless. One group of women sang songs while queueing for a summer sale at a clothing shop for 19 hours.

Then there was the time that the shopkeeper decided not to sell any more tomatoes, as he only had 17 left but there were 50 people waiting outside for them. When they refused to leave, he called the police.


Some people clearly had their priorities right. There were reports of some 500 men and women queuing daily for several hours outside West Hartlepool’s newest wine shop.

If you are a woman, maybe this sale season you should consider sending a man out to do your shopping for you. By being able to engage in some political chat with the shopkeeper, or, indeed, anything other than “household worries”, he could come home with a special discount. In fact, these “helpless” men could just be your key to an extra kidney from the butcher.


A sales assistant perfectly summed up the concerning “bargain rush” mentality, saying “I never thought women could be so stupid… Time after time I have heard someone comment to her neighbour ‘Well, I do not really want this, but it would be a pity to miss such a bargain.'”



The sales rush soon started leading to much darker consequences, with casualties reported across the country. If the newspapers tell us anything, it’s that the next time you find yourself in a sale, steer clear of the plate glass windows.



And beware of queue-jumping old men.



The queue is one of the most iconic images of the January sales. It’s an obstacle many are prepared to face for hours on end to get their hands on a bargain. Some desire clothes, others wine. During wartime, foodstuffs were highly coveted luxuries. But could it really be possible that some people just join a queue for the fun of it?



, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.