The Evolution of the Retail Trade sector in Iberian Cities from the Nineteenth Century to the Second World War.
The evolution of retail trade in European cities during the first decades of the twentieth century can be a powerful indicator about their urban and social dynamics. The growth in the number of shops, the spatial rearrangement of their distribution, and the increased social and political relevance of shopkeepers are features commonly highlighted by the historiography. But this picture is better known for Central and Northern European cities. As for the Iberian Peninsula although some efforts can be mentioned, there are still progress to be made. The papers discussed in this introductory essay address those questions through a double perspective: first, an analysis of the urban space and its impact on the development of the retail trade's spatial distribution and evolution; second, a historical and comparative analysis of four Iberian cities trying to build a better picture about the spatial, social and economic relevance of their retail trade. These perspectives will be explored for the cities of La Coruña, Barcelona, Bilbao and Lisbon studying the retail trade spatial distribution and the introduction of new forms of commercial concentration and consumption, roughly between 1840 and 1940