Author Archives: Leigh Sparks

About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students.

Going Self-Service – a 70 year old revolution?

A few weeks ago a journalist rang and asked about the introduction of self-service retailing into the UK.  A particular question was about the way in which retailers converting to self-service in the 1940s and 1950s knew what to do … Continue reading

Posted in Consumer Change, Customer Service, Express Dairies, Food Retailing, Historic Shops, History, Retail Change, Retail History, Retail innovation, Retailers, Retailing, Self-checkout, Self-Service, Small Shops, Tesco, Uncategorized, USA | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Multiplier and the Glue: Locally owned convenience stores and the local economy

Longer term readers of this blog will possibly recall a long standing interest in the impacts of small convenience stores on the local economy. This has taken the form of some discussion about what may be termed ‘the local multiplier’. … Continue reading

Posted in Academics, Community, Consumers, Convenience stores, Customer Service, Independents, Local Multiplier, Local Retailers, Relationships, Retail Economy, Retailers, Scottish Grocers Federation, Scottish Local Retailer, Uncategorized, University of Stirling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London’s Welsh Dairies: The Welsh Milk Trade

As a child I remember people mentioning the ‘milk train’ between London and South Wales, but was never sure if it was first up or last down or both. Before I married, my fiancée and I went to stay in … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Buildings, Consumer Change, Consumers, Customer Service, distribution, Food, Food Retailing, Heritage, High Streets, Historic Shops, History, Independents, London, MIlk, Retail Change, Retail History, Sanders Bros, Shopfronts, Signage, Uncategorized, Urban History, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Poundland and Sports Direct

It has always baffled me; if Poundland lived up to its name and everything was a pound, then why was the average basket size not a round pound number?  Anyhow it is a moot point now.  The announcement that Poundland … Continue reading

Posted in Accounting, administration, Auditors, Closure, Department Stores, Finance, Government, House of Fraser, Jack Wills, Landlords, Mike Ashley, Poundland, Pressure, Pricing, Rents, Retail Failure, Retailers, Retailing, Sports Direct, Strategy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Grocery Market Share 1997-2019

One of the by-products of our data rich age, is that more data is available ever more frequently.  Our attention spans have collapsed and if we don’t get a weekly, daily or hourly update then we begin to panic.  And … Continue reading

Posted in Aldi, Asda, CMA, Competition, Competition and Markets Authority, Food, Food Retailing, Grocery, Lidl, Longitudinal Data, Market Shares, Morrisons, Retail Change, Retailers, Retailing, Sainsbury, Tesco, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shopfronts – some recent sightings

Some people have been a bad influence on me: @historicshops @KA_Morrison (see Building Our Past) and @ghostsigns spring to mind. Their encyclopaedic knowledge – and delight in and willingness to share – means that I am forever on the search … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Corporate branding, Corporate History, Design, Heritage, High Streets, Historic Shops, History, Places, Public Realm, Retail History, Shopfronts, Signage, Small Towns, Spaces, Streetscapes, Town Centres, Towns, Uncategorized, Urban History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halifax – with Elephants

When I was 10 months old my father ‘forsake the amateur code’ (copyright Welsh Rugby Union) and ‘went north’, joining the Halifax professional rugby league team. This was a life changing decision in many ways for his family; not least … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Burtons, Corporate History, Design, Ghost Signs, Halifax, Heritage, Historic Shops, Markets, Places, Public Realm, Regeneration, Retail History, Rugby League, Streetscapes, Town Centres, Towns, Uncategorized, Urban History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment