For the better off shopping as a leisure pursuit was well established. In the up-market shops and department stores of Buchanan Street, Gordon Street and Sauchiehall Street women in particular were encouraged to browse or have their afternoon tea in fashionable tearooms. For those with less leisure and less money, Argyle Street and Jamaica Street were the main shopping centres, although the corner shop near home remained essential for everyday necessities, particularly when credit was needed.
In the difficult economic conditions of the inter-war years intense competition was having its effect and all shops were trying to broaden their markets by offering ever more enticements through either price or services. Profit margins were squeezed and mergers were forced. Cochrane's, Templeton's, Massey's and Lipton's were all bought over by Home & Colonial Stores, with Galbraith's following in the 1950s. In department stores costs were rising faster than sales and, by the end of the Second World War, many required considerable capital investment for refurbishment. Anderson's became Lewis's Royal Polytechnic in 1931, part of a department store chain. The Co-ops too were feeling the effects of a reduction in working-class purchasing power and wartime rationing and post-war austerity also restricted the range of choice available to people.
The bottom end of the retail market expanded. The American Woolworth's, offering "Nothing over 6d" (2.5p), expanded as did cheap clothes shops. Marks & Spencer, who had acquired their first Glasgow store in Argyle Street in 1919, built a new one in the 1930s and, with their policy of "nothing over 5 shillings" (25p), sales in the Glasgow branch were second only to those of London.
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