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The Victorian arcade as contemporary retail form?

Warnaby, Gary (2019) The Victorian arcade as contemporary retail form? History of Retailing and Consumption. ISSN 2373-518X

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Abstract

This paper analyses ground floor retail occupancy trends in Barton Arcade in Manchester, UK, from its construction in the 1870s to the present. The paper begins by discussing the development of arcades and acknowledges their importance as a retail built form, before discussing their relative demise in the twentieth century. Analysis of occupancy data from Slater’s/Kelly’s Directories (1876-1965) and Goad plans (1967 onwards) reveal significant continuities in occupancy, as well as trends towards an experiential orientation of the retail activity within the arcade, which suggests that an arcade which was perceived in the mid-1980’s to have little future might have successfully found a new lease of life. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for a continuing contemporary role for Victorian Arcades such as the Barton Arcade, and for taking a microhistorical perspective in the study of retail history.

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