This book represents an important development in the history of retailing. The authors have combined a business and social perspective in order to trace the growth of this important retail sector. Looking both inside and outside the firm, the book traces the rise of major firms including Kay and Co., Grattan, Empire Stores and Littlewoods. It highlights the ways in which these firms created and exploited social networks through the agency system and credit provision among the British working class. The book also traces the origins of internet-based home shopping in the UK - its links to, and divergence from, traditional mail order.