Letter: Birth of the supermarket

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The Independent Online
Sir: You refer to Sainsbury's (report, 9 May) opening the first self-service store in 1950. This may have been Sainsbury's first store of this kind, but it is very far from being Britain's first.

In 1942, London Co-Operative Society opened two self-service stores, (not 100 per cent self-service because they had counters for ration book sales) at Upton Park and Barkingside. By Easter 1943, they had five such stores, all over the eastern suburbs. In mid-1943, the first 100 per cent self-service department was opened in the central premises of Wolverhampton Co-Op, with no provision for ration book sales. The first British usage I have recorded for the word "supermarket" was in 1943, although it did not become general until the 1950s.

Malcolm Hornsby