I liked my walk very much; it was shorter than I had expected, and the weather was delightful. We set off immediately after breakfast, and must have reached Grafton House by half-past 11; but when we entered the shop the whole counter was thronged, and we waited full half an hour before we could be attended to. When we were served, however, I was very well satisfied with my purchases -- my bugle trimming at 2s. 4d. and three pair silk stockings for a little less than 12s. a pair.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
April 18, 1811
During the Regency, city shopping…for even a short list of items… could become an all day experience as one had to visit each individual proprietor, possibly in different parts of town (certain districts catered to different types of shops) wait for service from the staff (one could not simply help oneself and then find a cashier) and finally pay the clerk, who would dash off to the office for change before finally returning to the customer with their package.
There were markets (Billingsgate, Leadenhall, Farringdon, Newgate, Smithfield and Covent Garden were the largest) and street vendors for foodstuffs along with grocer's such as Fortnum & Mason in St. James' street; linen drapers in Piccadilly, Oxford, Regent and New Bond streets for fabric and trims, lace, gloves and shawls; libraries, booksellers in Piccadilly, tailors in Cork and New Bond street (most dressmakers and mantua makers would come to your home…there were few if any ready made clothes available), boot-makers in St.James' street, along with any number of milliners, jewelers, china showrooms and when you were exhausted from all of this, pastry-cooks, such as Gunter's, who specialized in tea, treats and ice cream.