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Christmas Past and Christmas Presents

The Xmas displays at Woolworth's a century ago. New Albany, Indiana, USA in the 1910s
For over a hundred years Woolworth's had a special magic at Christmas. The stores glistened with baubles and tree lights, while the waft of sweet confections filled the air. The counters were stacked high with gifts and treats for all the family, from tempting toys to toiletries, candy to crackers and homewares to hosiery.

For much of the Twentieth Century it dominated the retail scene, with stores across the USA and Canada, known affectionately as "the 5 & 10¢" years after the fixed price limits were dropped. Most people in Britain and Ireland thought that their "Woolies" shops were a local invention, where sixpence once went a long, long way.


An idyllic scene outisde a British Woolworths store in the early 2000s, as conveyed in the Company's Christmas advertising
The American stores faded away in the 1980s, closing their doors for the last time eighteen years ago in 1997. In the same year the former British subsidiary's profits exceeded £100m for the first time. But, just 11 years later they too vanished from the High Street after a dramatic collapse in the credit crunch.

2015 marks the first year when Woolworths is not trading in the UK, after the brand owners, Shop Direct Group decided to drop the name in favour of their Very website. There is speculation that this is 'Very' good news, freeing them to sell the name and perhaps mark a return to the High Street. Meanwhile Woolworth goes from strength to strength in Germany, reinvigorated after Administration in 2009.


The Museum tells the 130 year story of F.W. Woolworth as a bricks-and-mortar store around the world. You can get festive with a century of Christmas music, explore the history of Xmas Decorations, see some of the cards or toys that our great-grandparents chose, or watch our Christmas movie. Every feature is crammed with happy memories. Thanks for visiting - Merry Christmas !


Kathryn Morrison's great new book "Woolworth's, 100 years on the High Street" and Paul Seaton's popular "A Sixpenny Romance, celebrating a century of value at Woolworths"Here are some great gift ideas for Woolies lovers.

Historic England commissioned Kathryn Morrison to explore the retailer's proud history through its buildings, drawing on an archive of photographs donated to them by the Company long before its demise. Kathryn's beautiful hardback is available from their on-line shop. Order on-line ( £50),

Woolworths commissioned the Museum author, Paul Seaton, to document its story in 2007. His popular lavishly illustrated book, "A Sixpenny Romance, celebrating a century of history at Woolworths", paints a picture of the people, products and wonder from 1879 to 2009, and is just £10.99, including free P&P. Visit WWWStores for more information.