Foreseeing, thrifty, economical? the Provident Clothing and Supply Company and working class consumer credit in the United Kingdom, 1925-60

S. O'Connell, Chris Reid

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Abstract

Historical surveys of consumer credit in the United Kingdom identify the importance of check trading without documenting its magnitude or development. Check traders provided promissory notes redeemable with local retailers, who paid discounts in return for the custom. The Provident Clothing and Supply Company established the system in 1880 and by 1910 had obtained an annual turnover of £1,000,000. Checks were used to purchase goods at what Provident argued were "ordinary retail prices." While critics claimed the system offered poor credit bargains check trading remained unregulated. Using Provident's records the paper offers a unique opportunity to assess the size and nature of an institution central to many working class budgets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-45
Number of pages17
JournalEssays in Economic and Business History
Volume22
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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