Retailisation: The Here, There and Everywhere of Retail

Retailisation: The Here, There and Everywhere of Retail

Retailisation: The Here, There and Everywhere of Retail

Retailisation: The Here, There and Everywhere of Retail


This work investigates the current state of selling, whether groceries, politicians, information or motorcars. Like no other phenomenon, retailization reflects the complexity and diffusion of information processes and media in the online market.


You step off the plane, look around, take a deep breath-and come to somewhere south of SoHo, or on a midtown traction table with a silver tray and a tasselled tab on your chest and a guy in white saying 'Good morning, sir. How are you today? That'll be fifteen thousand dollars…'

Martin Amis, Money

This book is out of date and then again, so is Martin Amis's-his is really wrong: only $15,000 for a detox and a little light plastic surgery after a big bad night out in Manhattan in the 21st century? Get out of here. Then again, every book we have read and referenced in Retailisation-whether bought in Waterstone's or Barnes & Noble bookshops, ordered from or read via database screen or in an old-fashioned library, and every interview we have undertaken-is out of date. All our research is past it, superseded by the relentless speed of information-knowledge-being produced about our behaviour as consumers and people in newspapers, online, in research papers, in prognostications made at expensive retail conferences around the world, in life as we experience it osmotically. Every interview has dated, rusted, flirted with the trashcan on our desktops, is in need of an upgrade, a makeover. Every piece of information has had its time. Is past its sell-by date.

We're looking in this book for retail principles as an extension of the way we live, and we're looking at a very confusing time, a time often characterised as one of 'information overload'. We wish to illustrate that this is in fact also an era of retail overload, of everything overload. Retailing, that is, of goods that range from packaged soups to film channels on subscription television; stories emanating from tabloid newspapers and delivered through mobile phones to medical diagnosis coming from human practitioners or accessed through debatable websites; from vampire holidays in the hills of Transylvania to the latest home entertainment systems.

At the core of what we consider to be 'retail overload' is the issue of time. For, as life and work merge with travel for so many of us to form a seamless core of 'labour-time', which no longer stops as we catch the 6.45 train home, nor when we close the front door and enter our house or apartment, free time is one of the few valued commodities that retail can't really provide for us. While money buys us the 'things' we want and can afford (or not quite afford, but buy anyway) we find that in the retailisation era more free time is a luxury good far grander than any Fifth Avenue purchase or satellite-enabled holiday home. Time, like common culture, democracy, contentment, citizenship and public service

Martin Amis, Money (London: jonathan Cape, 1984).

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