The period ranging from the 1850s all the way till the present time has been seen as the years when retail shopping as we know it has become very prevalent. There has simply been an explosion of retail supermarkets and this not just in the US but in the rest of the world as well.
In the times preceding that shops were small and mainly consisted of an attendant or a “shopkeeper” who usually stood behind a counter and presided over a few rows of merchandise. But come the 1850s all the way to the 1900s and large supermarket chains began to appear. These were superbly large and consisted of rows and rows of different foods and other household merchandise.
One could either carry a basket or even better, push a trolley which they filled with the items they intend to buy as they go. At the cash register, the cashier usually had an attendant who helped them pack these items into a plastic or paper bags.
When supermarkets started, plastic bags were not as prevalent as they are today and paper bags were the sole way that grocery shopping and any other shopping for that matter. Paper bags were first developed commercially by a company called Union Paper with the help of a Francis Wolle who worked as a bagger and cashier in a family-owned grocery store.
Wolle noticed that during the retail revolution, there was a problem of customers carrying their purchases home. He then embarked to develop a paper bag which he used at his store. The Union Paper liked his design and contracted him to develop a prototype for them.
Ever since that time, paper bag innovation has grown in leaps and bounds to the square-bottom strong paper bag that we see today. But can the paper bag survive the plastic bag assault? How does the paper compare today when it comes to competition with the plastic bag?
The plastic bag has become very popular with shoppers and marketers alike. This is because is can be branded with many advertisements using the latest in graphic designs. Plastic bags are also strong and therefore preferred when it comes to heavy shopping especially for clothes.
Plastic bags have also become popular in retail and grocery marts. This is because as we mentioned, they are resilient. They can carry more items and not break apart.
They are also easy to carry meaning that instead of pushing a trolley, one can simply cram all their purchases into a few plastic bags and carry all of them out of the store. Plastic bags are also water-proof.
But paper bags are still popular despite all the advantages that are laden on plastic bags. Paper bags, especially the square-bottom ones, are also very resilient. They have been known to carry up to 30 pounds of groceries without breaking.
In the past, the major contention people had with paper bags was that they were not strong enough to withstand weight but that is no longer the case.