M&S Timelines - Packaging

A snapshot of M&S packaging through time

The images here and on the next page represent a snapshot of how packaging has been developed at M&S over the years - some of the highlights are listed below and you can download the full timeline (in either PowerPoint or PDF format) using the links below.

Pre-1900 - M&S sold small, simply packaged items such as buttons in the Penny Bazaars

1900s - First M&S branded carrier bags, the earliest had an illustration of the Head Office building in Manchester and listed all the stores in the country

1930s - Luxury goods were sold alongside the core homewares, and paper bags featuring art deco designs gave out a message of elegance and sophistication 

1959 - The St Michael brand name was featured extensively on packaging, with nearly 3,000 tons of paper being used for 410 million bags and carriers in this year alone

1969 -  Plastic was becoming more popular as a packaging material, and at the end of the 1960s the long-term plan was to stop using paper bags altogether and replace them with plastic carriers

1972 - Sell-by dates first appeared on M&S packaging

1980s - M&S started to recycle plastic clothes hangers, meaning that the company saved money and was also looking after the planet

1991 - People were beginning to understand that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment, and so M&S created a strong re-usable carrier bag that cost 15p

2008 - M&S  introduced a 5p charge for large food carrier bags with profits from sales of the bags going to charity

2015 - M&S continue to look for ways to improve packaging to help keep food fresh for longer and reduce food waste.

Art Deco - a style in art that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s
Elegance - grace and beauty
Illustration - a picture or image; a drawing 
Luxury - something that is not essential but that people like to have because it is special (can be expensive)
Sophistication - showing good taste and wisdom

View other relevant M&S packaging-related resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas

Scroll down for a list of links and other related resources on this topic.

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