Shoplifters of the World Unite

"Shoplifters of the World Unite" is a song by the English rock band the Smiths. Released in January 1987, it reached No. 12 in the UK Singles Chart. As with most of the Smiths' singles, it was not included on a studio album. It is featured on the compilation albums The World Won't Listen, Louder Than Bombs, Singles and The Sound of The Smiths.

"Shoplifters of the World Unite"
Single by The Smiths
from the album Louder Than Bombs and The World Won't Listen
Released26 January 1987
RecordedNovember 1986
StudioTrident Studios, London
GenreAlternative rock
LabelRough Trade
Songwriter(s)Johnny Marr, Morrissey
Producer(s)Johnny Marr
The Smiths singles chronology
"Shoplifters of the World Unite"
"Sheila Take a Bow"
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]

Another newly completed song, "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby", was originally intended to be the A-side of this single. It made it to the white label test pressing stage and approximately 900 stock copies of the single were manufactured. This aborted single mix can be heard on The World Won't Listen, while a remixed version is included in Louder Than Bombs.


The title alludes to the slogan "Workers of the world, unite!", and the 1966 David and Jonathan hit "Lovers of the World Unite".

Music and lyricsEdit

During a 1987 interview with Shaun Duggan, Morrissey said of the song: "[It does] not literally mean picking up a loaf of bread or a watch and sticking it in your coat pocket. It's more or less spiritual shoplifting, cultural shoplifting, taking things and using them to your own advantage."[2] Musically the song has a resemblance to the T. Rex song "Children of the Revolution".[3]

Music videoEdit

A music video based partly on the band's performance of the song on The Tube was directed by Tamra Davis.

Live performancesEdit

The Smiths performed this song in concert only once, during their last gig in December 1986 at Brixton Academy, London. Additionally they performed it live on the TV music show The Tube in April 1987, and Morrissey has sung it in concert frequently during his solo career.

Track listingEdit

7" RT195
1."Shoplifters of the World Unite"2:56
2."Half a Person"3:35
12" RTT195
1."Shoplifters of the World Unite"2:56
3."Half a Person"3:35
12" Wrong Version RTT195
1."You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby"3:34
3."Half a Person"3:35

Artwork and matrix messageEdit

The single's sleeve features a photograph of a young Elvis Presley that was taken by James R. Reid.

The British 7" and 12" vinyls contained the matrix messages: ALF RAMSEY'S REVENGE/none


Chart Peak
Ireland (IRMA) 7
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 12


  1. ^ "Shopliters of the World Unite rating". Allmusic. Retrieved on 29 October 2012.
  2. ^ Duggan, Shaun. "Interview, The Tube".
  3. ^ Walk right through the door: 12 songs about shoplifting

External linksEdit