Historically, the human element of the shopping experience was paramount, with shops as an important feature of communities and the shopkeeper as a central figure (even Napoleon infamously remarked that ‘England is a nation of shopkeepers’). However, shifts in lifestyles and the introduction of larger retail units led to new ways being developed to maximize turnover. The growth of supermarkets and the use of shelves stocked with groceries and foodstuffs removed the need for human intermediaries and allowed a more costeffective way of supplying goods. This shift also created a number of legal problems centring upon when the contract of sale was concluded, as this had consequences for the sale of goods such as intoxicating liquor to minors. A similar experience was seen in the case of garages supplying petrol. Historically, an attendant would have enquired as to how much petrol was required by the motorist and delivered the petrol into the vehicle. However, for similar reasons to the supermarket shift, it became more cost-efficient to permit motorists to supply the petrol themselves and pay the amount due to a central point. This shift also created legal problems when it was discovered that the law of theft did not initially cover situations where the motorist filled up and then decided not to pay, although this problem was later rectified. It is now possible for the whole transaction for petrol to be automated through payment by debit or credit card at the pump itself, completely removing all human contact from the transaction.
   Further developments have occurred both with the onset of mail order and so-called ‘e-commerce’. Mail-order facilities were adopted by many companies such as Littlewoods and Sears Roebuck, as a response to the need for a more convenient mode of shopping for rural or busy consumers with the convenience of shopping via catalogue and having products delivered directly to the home. Coupled with credit schemes that allowed the spreading of costs and outlay (hire purchase agreements) this proved a viable and popular means of home shopping. With the advent of the World Wide Web, further opportunities for home shopping have presented themselves, and after some initial scepticism these have been seized upon by many corporations wise to the advantages this might bring. With government figures showing that over 10 percent of the UK population are now online, many see this idea of the ‘wired catalogue’ being the next logical step in self-service/home shopping.
   See also: electronic shopping
   Further reading
    DTI (1998 ) ‘Moving into the information age’ , http:/

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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  • Self service — is the practice of serving oneself, usually when purchasing items. Common examples include many gas stations, where the customer pumps their own gas rather than have an attendant do it (self service gas pumping is illegal in New Jersey Oregon);… …   Wikipedia

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  • self-service — adj a self service restaurant, shop etc is one in which you get things for yourself and then pay for them >self service n [U] …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • self-service — ☆ self service [self′sʉr′vis ] n. the practice of serving oneself from a display of articles in a store, cafeteria, etc. or servicing one s car oneself at a service station and then paying a cashier adj. operating with such self service …   English World dictionary

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  • self-service — or ,self serve adjective a self service restaurant or gas station is one where the customers have to serve themselves …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • self-service — /selfˈservis, ingl. ˌsɛlfˈsYːvɪs/ [vc. ingl., comp. di self «sé stesso» e service «servizio»] A s. m. inv.; anche agg. inv. fai da te B s. m. inv. (est., di ristorante) CFR. tavola calda …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

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