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Shopping has changed quite a bit since the 1700s but, at the same time, there are some shopping trends that were around during the 18th century that is still around today.

Shopping only became a leisurely activity in England in the 18th century. Before then it was a chaotic event where shoppers scoured markets helplessly in search of what they needed. Markets were a place where any shop keeper could set up anywhere and no one knew where to find anything. But, as England accumulated more wealth and the cities expanded shops became more competitive. In order to win the favor of customers, shop owners went to incredible lengths, decorating the outside of their shops in the most extravagant ways they could afford. This is where window shopping originated. Curious shoppers would browse and marvel at the lavish window displays along the shopping streets. Since then, not much has particularly changed. We still have window displays and big, expensive shops attracting the more wealthy customers, however, it takes more than a pretty window display to lure in customers these days. People caught on to manipulative marketing and now shops need to have well-rounded quality and value.

Shopping in the 18th century for the upper class was a surprisingly strict affair. For the wealthy, there were social laws and etiquette that must be abided by, lest you make a fool of yourself. Money never exchanged hands inside a shop. In fact, prices and money were rarely spoken of in a public setting. Instead, the wealthy patrons were expected to be either incredibly knowledgeable of the value of items or be too rich to care how much they cost. This is because it was seen as improper to discuss money, which is why these days we use price tags to avoid those embarrassing situations. In the 18th century, it was also common for wealthy shoppers to have their goods delivered to their house by a courier. By doing this they were free to continue shopping without being burdened by bags and would often spend frivolously because they weren’t keeping track of how much they were buying. This might have been what inspired modern online shopping and delivery. A 2 man white glove delivery service takes the expensive products from the company and delivers it straight to the customer’s front door.

The 18th century was also the era in which we encountered the first incidents of shops advertising their goods to the public. Before that time, shops were mostly advertised through word of mouth, but because of the increase competition shop owners used newspapers to inform the public of the great products they had on sale. Of course, for a modern shop advertising is a necessity and without it, the shop would fail. This is because a number of shops to compete with has only continued to increase over the years. With instant online access to almost every shop in every country, shops need to advertise ruthlessly in order to lure in customers.