As a significant inducement to consumer spending, English department store display remains surprisingly under-researched. 1 One of its key aspects is the way that its development can help illuminate the relationship between the retailer and the shopping public in the early twentieth century, and so add to our understanding of contemporary consumer society. Where window advertising more generally has been studied to this end, it has often been considered from a gendered perspective 266and from that of the consumer, 2 with the result that the retailer’s standpoint is often absent. Further, the disproportionate attention that has attached to the more sensational exploits of those such as A.T. Stewart, Marshall Field, William Whiteley, Gordon Selfridge, David Lewis and Aristide Boucicaut, has done little to correct assumptions concerning the calculated or manipulative use of display that has informed the historiography of the department store. 3 Their high-profile stunts, designed to publicise what were to become the leading stores of America, Britain and the Continent, have tended to obscure the less momentous experiences of the majority, particularly those of the shop and store-owners of English towns and cities. To understand those experiences, this research focuses on English city and high street department stores, most of which began life in the nineteenth century as drapers, and continued to define themselves in this way until the 1920s and 1930s, despite their growth and diversity of merchandise. In light of this continued overlap, the terms draper and department store are used interchangeably in the following discussion. 4