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Shopping in the UK

The UK is a shopper’s paradise and the perfect travel destination for retail therapy. You can practically find anything you want here whether shopping for the cream of the brands or great bargains. Shopping in the UK includes the stalls at the street markets, independent stores, retail chains, department stores and large shopping malls. When it comes to price, the UK is not necessarily cheaper than Continental Europe - some items may cost more and some may cost less. However, the UK is a fantastic shopping destination when it comes to variety, quality and availability with so many brands and places to shop that it can overwhelm any serious shopper!

Shopping Tips

Prices for the same item vary from store to store and therefore survey a few outlets for the best price. Avoid shopping in the tourist areas since prices generally tend to be higher. Head to where the locals shop for better prices even if you’re searching for luxury brands and you’ll be confident that you’re getting a good deal. You can usually get a better deal shopping at stores outside the city centre. Visit online stores in the UK to give you a better idea on prices for an item before heading to the brick and mortar stores.

Westfield Shopping Centre in London by Txllxt TxllxT

Shopping in London

London is the ultimate shopping destination in the UK where you can find plenty of shopping opportunities and almost anything from cheap bargains to luxury brands. London's shopping streets or districts generally focus on a specific theme such as luxury brands, emerging or lesser-known brands and bargain fashion. Outlets here range from the humble stalls at the markets offering bargains to upscale department stores offering luxury. Whatever your choice, you’ll never be disappointed shopping in London.

London's famous Harrods department store by Sokkk y

The heart of shopping in London is Oxford Street with landmark stores that include Selfridges, John Lewis, Primark and H&M. Other major shopping destinations include Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, King’s Road and Knightsbridge. Harrods in Knightsbridge is London’s most famous luxury department store comprising over 300 departments. Another famous department store is Harvey Nichols, a stylish cousin of Harrods offering luxury goods from top-notch brands.

Hamleys toy store on Regent Street by David Holt

Shopping Beyond London

You can find at least one shopping district or street in other cities and large towns across the UK. North Laine, The Lanes and London Road in Brighton are home to many independently owned stores while Brighton Marina and the Churchill Square shopping centre are homes to high street retailers. In Southampton, the main shopping district is West Quay with its shopping centres and large warehouse-style stores or mega stores.

WestQuay shopping centre in Southampton by WileyFoxes

The epicentre for shopping in the Scottish city of Edinburgh is the Royal Mile, centring on Princes Street with its numerous retail chains and department stores. Another Scottish city is Glasgow with Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street collectively known as the Golden Z being the main shopping districts. Cardiff is one of the top shopping destinations in the UK with Queen Street being the city’s shopping hub. A popular shopping destination in Belfast is Donegal Place with brand name stores such as Marks & Spencer, Foot Locker and Clarks Shoes.

Shops at the Royal Mile in Edinburgh by Mike Murry

Tax-Free Shopping

There is a 20 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UK for purchases of most goods. If planning to do a lot of shopping, the VAT can be a substantial part of your shopping expenditure. However, visitors residing outside the European Union (EU) can claim VAT refunds for merchandises purchased from designated stores. Such stores will display a ‘Tax-Free Shopping’ sign and usually found in major cities such as London or areas often frequented by tourists. Depending on the store, the minimum purchase to allow you to claim for a VAT refund is from £30 to £50.

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