chapter  12
22 Pages

‘Revolution in trade’: the Americanization of distribution in Germany during the boom years, 1949–75

The Americanization of distribution in Germany during the boom-years, 1949–1975
ByHarm G. Schröter

Nothing short of a ‘revolution in trade’ happened during the boom years in West Germany and in Western Europe according to Robert Nieschlag.1

Who was Robert Nieschlag, and why did he use such strong words? During the 1950s and 1960s Nieschlag became what Bruno Tietz had become during the 1970s and 1980s, the scientific pope of German distribution.2

By using the term revolution, he wanted to underline the dramatic change which took place not only in the form and size of distribution systems, but in the fundamental change in the approach and understanding of it. At the beginning of this period, one of the leading economists in Germany, Burkardt Röper, wrote: ‘Surprisingly small is the desire of retailers to compete with each other on prices.’3 However, 10 years later Nieschlag established: ‘While formerly a defensive attitude was widespread within retailers, there now is a remarkable change in the younger generation towards a truly traders’ approach.’4