The idea of self-service shopping came from America. During the 1930s, some empty American warehouses were converted into supermarkets and customers served themselves. By the 1940s, there were lots of self-service stores in America. However, America had more land to build large shops on than Britain did, and more people owned cars to transport goods home.
This picture shows a guide to self-service shopping, produced by Sainsbury’s in 1955. The first Sainsbury’s self-service store opened in 1950. People were given a wire basket to put their shopping in until they had paid for it. Most people liked self-service because they didn’t have to queue to be served and could take their time choosing.