Retailing in the medieval and early modern worlds

Authored by: Christopher Dyer

The Routledge Companion to the History of Retailing

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138675087
eBook ISBN: 9781315560854
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Rather than regarding the pre-industrial economy as severely constrained, with such widespread poverty that only the rich could be consumers, we appreciate that from the thirteenth century a fifth of the European population lived in towns and made their livings from industry and trade. The infrastructure of retail trade included stalls in market places and fair grounds, but also many shops. Retailing stretched into the countryside with shops, inns and ale houses. Pedlars travelled to remote places. The early modern growth of commerce and consumption in large towns promoted the precursors of department stores. Retail trade reflected a growth in social ambition and self confidence, and the expansion of consumption stimulated the whole economy. It extended the economic roles of women. Dangers threatened retail trade, and governments legislated against profiteering and dishonest practices. Critics noted immoral behaviour around shops, and the frivolity of fashion.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.