A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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Question 1 . Are you getting any goods on easy payment ?

37.6% of the people in the sample were getting articles other than food on credit.

43.8% of the poorer group D do so; 31.2% of the less poor group C use credit facilities.

Fewer people in the older (over 50) group than the younger people use credit. The proportions are, 26.4% for the older group and 43% for the younger.

Wives of service-men rely most often on credit services; 52.7% (the average is 37.6%).

The number of children under 14, influences credit buying; 62.6% with more than 3 children under 14 do it, but only 27.2% of the people without children under 14 do so.

In rural areas slightly less credit buying occurs; 30.5% in rural areas and 38.7% in urban areas.

Geographical differences exist. South East, North East, and Wales are areas where 50% or more of the groups studied buy on credit.

Evidence - pages 3-5

Question 2 . Which articles do you buy on credit ?

Clothes, adults 60.4% and children 45.8%, are the articles for which credit buying is most frequently employed. Shoes for children and adults, hard furniture household linen, soft furniture follow in this order of importance. Other articles which can be bought on credit are acquired by less than 10%.

The poorer group D buys clothes and shoes on credit more often than the C group. Not much difference exists for the other articles.

People with large families buy more children’s clothes. Older people who group then the younger ones.

The rural areas buy on credit less articles which come under the group miscellaneous, such as wireless, electrical or gas stoves etc.

Evidence - pages 6-8

Question 3 . Which credit system do you use? How many systems do you use at the same time?

18.6% use more than one credit system at once, the D group does so more frequently than the C group. 32.6% use Providence cheques, and 11% Street and Factory clubs.

Evidence - page 8

Question 4 . How much do you, pay weekly?

The weekly payments range from 1/- to more than 5/- a week. The highest percentage, 9.6%, comes in this latter group. Among the D group there is a specially high percentage which pays 5/- or more in weekly instalments (12.8%).

Evidence - page 9

Question 5 . If it should become impossible to buy on a credit system, would this cause any hardship?

23% think that it would cause them hardship if it should become impossible to buy on credit. It would be more difficult for the D class (31.5%) to manage without credit buying than for the C class (15.6%).

The most serious hardship would be caused to people with more than 3 children under 14. 48.3% of them think they could not manage without credit buying. The position for the wives of service-men is similar; 40.5% would suffer.

The women in the towns would miss it more than those in rural areas - the percentages being 24.6% for the town and 17.8% for the rural areas.

Evidence - pages 9-12

Question 6 . Which articles would you have to give up buying, if you could not buy on credit?

Mainly adults (47.3/°) and children’s clothes (32.9%) could not be bought with­out a credit system. 10% mention shoes for adults, 9% shoes for children, and 11% hard furniture.

Evidence - page 12

Question 7 . If it would be any hardship - what are the reasons?

12.4% say they could not afford to buy at all without credit. The D group especially puts this reason forward, 17.1% against 7.4% in the C group. 6.8% could not pay cash because the prices are dearer, and they could not put down such a large sum at once. 3% think it is the easiest way to save. With another 3.6% it is habit, they have always done it, and 3.1% have less money now than they had before the war.

Evidence - pages 12-13

Question 8 . Is there any article you would have liked to buy on credit, but could not ?

13.3% said that such had been their experience, the D group slightly more (15.3%) than the C group (11.1%).

Evidence - page 13

Question 9 . Which article would you have liked to have bought on credit, but could not?

Principally articles from the furniture group could not be bought, 28.6% mention hard furniture, 18.3% soft furniture, 13.4% household linen. Clothes are most frequently mentioned; 5.9% had this experience with children’s clothes, and 12.7% with adult clothes.

Evidence - page 14

Question 10. ( To those who have stopped buying goods on credit) Why did you stop getting goods on credit?

The main reason was paying for the article in question was finished and no new article had been bought. 2.7% said that they could afford to pay cash now.

2.9% now cannot afford to buy any articles of the sort they bought previously. 2.4% said that the club through which they obtained credit had ceased to exist, and 1.7% gave up credit buying because they could not get what they wanted.

Evidence - page 14


Two groups of shops are compared; clothing, shoe shops etc., and furniture, and bicycle shops etc.

For about a third of these shops the goods sold on credit did not amount to more than 10% of the their turnover; for 15% it amounted to more than 50%.

The main credit system used in the “furniture” group is hire purchase (83.6%). The systems in use in the “clothing” group are straight credit 33.1%, providence cheques 23.2% clubs 26.6%, and purchase schemes 11.8%.

Credit trade has declined since the war in the majority of these shops, in 68.3% of the “clothing group”, in 74.4% of the “furniture” group. Only in 7% of the shops has it increased.

The decrease is due to a number of causes. It is partly brought about by changed earning capacity of the consumer; either they earn more and can pay cash, or their income has considerably decreased as in the case of the wives of servicemen, and they cannot buy anything now. The decrease is also due to the changed attitude of the shops; they do not like to give credit, because of the greater risk involved during war time. The “furniture” group had to face this problem, mainly because of the shortage of supplies, and this also allows the shopkeeper to pick his customers, and he prefers those who pay cash. There are a number of other reasons, such as shortage of labour and transport etc., which make credit buying less desirable for the shopkeeper.

A few shops mentioned an increase in credit buying; the reasons given were increase in population, war marriages, reduction in the number of shops in the district etc.

Shopkeepers do not like to give credit to certain groups of people, mainly service-men's wives, evacuees and war-workers who are strangers in the town.

Quite a number of shops, 51% in the “furniture” group and 32% in the “clothing” group, do not expect that they will have to introduce changes in their credit policy in connection with the controlled prices of utility goods.

Evidence - Appendix 2

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