A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

Section 4. For Which Commodities do Housewives queue longest .

It is interesting that those commodities for which housewives say they queue longest are on the whole those for which they queue most. This might be explained by saying housewives remember queueing most clearly for those commodities for which they queued longest.

Order Rating Commodity for which Housewives Queued Housewives Order Rating Commodity for which Housewives Queued longest. Housewives.
1 Fish 154 1 Fish 107
2 Cakes and Confectionery 133 2 Cakes & Confectionery 86
3 Meat 128 3 Biscuits 65
4 Biscuits 104 4 Meat 64
5 Groceries (Unspecified) 86 5 Groceries (Unspecified) 54
6 Groceries (Rationed) 71 6 Groceries (Rationed) 44
7 Sausages 43 7 Cooked Meat, Pies 24
8 Cooked Meat, Pies 42 8 Sausages 19
9 Chocolates, Sweets 39 9 Chocolates, Sweets 11
Total 947 Total 533

(The first column, of course, includes housewives queueing for more than one commodity, only the first nine commodities are given.)

No Regional or Social Group figures are quoted since the sample involved would not bear this amount of detail.

Some indication was given by housewives of how long they queued for commodities for which they queued longest . These figures are summarised below.

No. %
0-15 Minutes 136 25.8
15-30 Minutes 191 36.2
30-45 Minutes 61 11.6
45-60 Minutes 82 15.6
Over 60 Minutes 57 10.8
Sample 524 100
49 50 -33-


Queues are fair.
Strong disapproval. Queued in 7 day 20.6%
Distribution faculty
No Comments.
Queuers are at fault Did not queue 79.4%
Wont queue.
Don’t need to queue
Cannot queue.

It will be seen that nearly three quarters of those housewives queued for more than 15 minutes for their worst commodity, On the other hand 64.1% of housewives queued not more than twice according to their own statements, It would appear from these figures that most queues involve a wait of over 15 minutes. Alternatively, as appears also from the first part of this Section, housewives remember only those queues in which they wait longest.

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