Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider the value of history within a contemporary retail management and marketing context.
Design/methodology/approach – The progress that has been made in incorporating historical methods and history into the retail management and marketing literature was considered.
Findings – The paper explains how history is able to develop understanding in research areas that are by their nature oriented toward contemporary concerns.
Research limitations/implications – The importance of maintaining an historical perspective and not allowing the present to determine an understanding of the past are emphasised. That is, for research to understand the past on its own terms and for the past to help determine an understanding of the present.
Practical implications – The paper explores practical implications for the study of history in the retail management and marketing context.
Originality/value – The paper addresses the dilemma researchers facing in subject areas where it is much easier to see history as a precursor to current activities, rather than as an opportunity to explore questions in different contexts and within longer time frames.