Whatever happened to … Joe Bloggs?
In 1961 the Hazy Osterwald Sextet called for people to embrace consumerism in their hit single "Geh’n Sie mit der Konjunktur" (Run with the business cycle). There was every reason: ever since the mid-1950s, private purchasing power had been on the rise while the cost of living remained relatively stable.
For the first time in history, normal people had money left over for luxury goods such as furniture, cars, holidays and electronic devices. However, compared with today’s standards, the range of goods on offer back in the heady days of petticoats, kidney tables, prawn cocktail and Toast Hawaii was limited. The retail landscape was characterised by small corner shops and the first supermarkets. Nowadays, saturation is a major feature of consumer goods markets in developed countries. An average income allows consumers not only to satisfy everyday needs, but also to splash out occasionally on luxury items. Supply is far greater than demand. But that was not always the case. Only after the second world war did people really start to embrace consumerism and treat themselves again. As a result, the consumer goods market remained purely a sellers’ market until the end of the 1950s. The risk of being left with unwanted goods was low for retailers. As competition among suppliers increased, a buyers’ market gradually began to develop. In the early 1960s, the first Aldi outlets opened in Germany, bringing the discount store principle to Germany for the first time: a limited range of high-quality -products at low prices.