20th Century Christmas Shopping

Updated on Dec 15, 2022. Originally added on Dec 15, 2016 by Kathy Pinna
Shopping during the 1900s was a different experience than it is today. Now two decades (wow!) into the 21st century, online shopping is beginning to equal, if not outspend, the shopping at brick and mortar stores.

Things were very different not that long ago. In the 20th century people had to go out and shop - in great numbers.

A part of everyone's Christmas tradition was going to the stores and enjoying the sights and sounds: The beautiful window displays, the Christmas lights, the newest toys and clothes, visiting Santa, sometimes hearing carolers . . . and the crowds. Always the crowds.

Checkout this collection of photos highlighting the experience of Christmas shopping during the 1900s. Do these photos bring back memories?

20th Century Christmas Shopping

Not a war . . . shoppers!

1948 New York City

1948 photo of a NYC store after Christmas shoppers have left.

1939 London

London, 1939

Notice the sandbags lined up against the building. This was the first Christmas of World War II in England. The sandbags were supposed to protect the stores against bombs.

Window shopping

Los Angeles, 1941

1941 Los Angeles


Christmas dolls, 1934

London, 1934

A little girl window shopping for her Christmas wish!

The Bishop's Wife

Loretta Young, 1947

Loretta Young in the 1947 movie - one of the great Christmas movies. Cary Grant was a wonderful angel!

1910 New York City

1910 New York City

From tip to toe, they're loaded down!

Macy's Santa, 1924

Macy's Santa Claus

Look closely, the details are great!


Macy's Santa, 1942

Macy's Santa Claus, 1942

Oh, a Christmas train!

Christmas train, Omaha

The Brandeis Department Store in 1960's Omaha.

1939 New York City

New York City, 1939

Those are crowded sidewalks!

Christmas shoppers, Chicago

Chicago Christmas Shoppers

Looks like the 1940's - what do you think?

Street Christmas card display

Christmas Card Display

Window Shopping at Christmas

New York City Christmas Shopping

Shopping in London

London, 1937

It's 1937, they're shopping for Christmas - and love the coats and sensible shoes!

Macy's, 1948

Christmas Eve, 1948

It's Christmas Eve and shoppers are watching the animated toys in Macy's windows. It looks like Christmas music is being played over the speakers above the windows.

She's doing a bit of shopping!

Christmas, 1930's

And I want a man to carry all my packages! Lucky girl.

1913 New York City

New York City, 1913

Oh, the muffs! I always wanted a muff when I was a girl. They look so elegant!

New York City, 1945

New York City, 1945

They look like they're having fun!

Crowd of shoppers, 1947

Christmas Crowd, 1947

The windows are "A Santa Claus Story" display.

1950's window shopping

1950's Christmas Display

Looks like the women want china!

In the 1910's . . .

Xmas shoppers

They look like they're having fun shopping!

New York City

Christmas Window Shopping, NYC

Bet some of those toys move - that's the only way boys would be watching so intently.


Woolworth's, 1935

1935 window display at Woolworth's on 5th Avenue.

Christmas Peddler

1910 New York City Christmas

1910 - and those boys are fascinated. I wonder what he's selling?

Have photos that you'd like to see included? Share your photos or click "next page" below to see a video of popular toys in the 1950's.
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