Europeans Enjoy U.S.-Style Installment Buying

The New York Times, August 7, 1955

Updated: May 15, 2013

Americans paid close attention to the postwar development of mass consumption in Europe, something frequently discussed in terms of an “Americanization” of the continent. This 1955 New York Times article deals with the increasing popularity of installment buying in Europe during the 1950s. After a short overview of the most popular products, the story compares how Americans and West Europeans see hire purchase, and how their perspectives and general financial frameworks differ from one another. The author also emphasizes the significant impact of the “changed status of the modern European woman” and analyzes how female consumers and the steady growth of prosperity after World War II led to the spread of installment buying. The situation in Great Britain is described in detail, and the cases of other European countries, such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany are contrasted with installment buying as it exists in the United States. Overall, the use of consumer credit would remain a significant transatlantic difference in consumption patterns. 

“West Europeans have been having a happy if somewhat restricted fling with the American-style installment plan. […] While systems vary greatly from one country to another, the items being made available are generally the same. […] Traditionally, conservative Europeans look down on consumer credit as irresponsible and inflationary.”

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Jones, Brendan M. “Europeans Enjoy U.S.-Style Installment Buying: Terms Are Shorter, Rates Higher Than They Are Here.” The New York Times, August 7, 1955, p. F1.

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