Shopping – you either love it or you hate it – but whichever camp you lie in, it’s a necessary fact of life. Shopping in London can be a great experience. With various shops open 24/7, as well as some of the most prestigious stores in the world, you could live here for 50 years and still come across hidden gems that you’ve never discovered before.
Shopping hours in London are generally 09:00 to 17:30 or 18:00, but you might find them open much later. This is especially the case with small grocery stores that you can find open on a virtually 24 hour basis.
Sunday opening is normal for many stores, although the official hours are 10:00 to 16:00 or 17:00. Some stores might open earlier on a Sunday but specify a ‘browsing only’ period, during which time they’re not allowed to physically sell any products.
A plethora of different shopping experiences
One of the great things about shopping in London is the huge variety of different options available. It’s not just a case of ‘popping out to the shops’ in London, oh no. Shopping here can be so much more than just a necessity. It can be a truly enjoyable day out.
Some of the options available to you are:
- Out of town shopping centres
- Retail parks
- Shopping streets
- Department stores
- Exclusive designer stores
- Unique boutique shopping
Food and grocery shopping
There are some large supermarket chains that can be found all over London and the UK. These include Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. All these chains have a combination of large, out of town stores and smaller ‘city’ stores that only stock the more essential items.
These larger stores offer loyalty cards, so that every time you shop you receive points that can be used against future shops, or perhaps swapped to use to pay for products such as family days out or air miles. Each store’s loyalty card differs slightly, but each is intended to keep you coming back to their store and continue spending money. You can also shop online with all of the large grocery stores, and have your shopping delivered to your home at a time convenient to you. There’s usually a small charge for this, generally between £4 to £10, depending on the time slot for delivery that you choose.
Because food prices have increased dramatically in the past few years, the rise in popularity of cheaper supermarkets has been nothing short of incredible. Stores such as Aldi and Lidl can be found in many locations, and in some cases can offer quite incredible discounts on both branded and unbranded products.
However, you don’t need to do all (or any) of your shopping at these large stores. The rise of the independent shop has increased over the past decade, as people have become more aware of additives to processed foods. Many choose to shop at independent butchers, organic greengrocers or farm shops that sell food from local, sustainable stock and growers. Admittedly this is a more expensive option, but the difference in quality can be quite remarkable.
The most cost effective options for purchasing electrical items tends to be from the larger electrical retailers. These can be found at retail parks or out of town shopping centres, or if you prefer you can purchase online and have them delivered to your door.
Be aware that although there is a lot of competition between retailers, it’s still worth doing your homework before taking the plunge and making a purchase. Websites such as PriceRunner or Which can be used to find out the cheapest location to purchase. There are also some great apps that do the same. You simply type in the product name or scan the barcode with your smartphone, and then the app will compare prices at national and local outlets.
Some such apps include:
- Buy Via
- Amazon Price Check
Clothes and accessories
Clothes shopping in London is, in a nutshell, amazing! From the high street names that line Oxford Street to the markets of Camden to the prestigious stores such as Harrods and Liberty, you’ll never be at a loss of somewhere to go.
Plus, no capital city would be complete without some of the top designer labels having flagship stores. And London is no exception to the rule. But, and here’s another top insider tip… For those who love their designer clothes, but perhaps aren’t so keen on the designer price tags, take a trip up the M40 motorway for about an hour, to a place called Bicester Village.
This designer outlet village has some of the top names in fashion, such as Gucci, Christian Dior, Versace, Ralph Lauren and Fendi to name just a few. The discounts can be incredible, with prices at 50, 60 or 70 per cent lower than the original. And you don’t even need a car to visit, as it’s easily accessible by train, or various tour operators run day trips from central London.
Furniture and household effects
There are loads of larger chain furniture stores in and around London. Many offer deals such as interest free credit periods, sometimes extending to three or four years. They tend to have high profile advertising campaigns on TV that you can’t fail to miss. However, if you take advantage of these credit options, be sure to pay up in full at the end of the term or the interest fees can be extremely high.
Whilst these furniture stores are undoubtedly convenient, London boasts a huge amount of quirky and unique places and stores that make for a far more appealing shopping experience.
Portobello Market is the world’s largest antiques market that not only is a buyers delight, but as it goes right through the heart of Notting Hill (as of the film fame), is also a wonderful day out. Other fine interior and homeware shops are listed in Time Out magazines ‘best furniture shops’ listing.
Need more information
Shopping is only one aspect of Living in London. Take a look at our Cost of Living in London page for details on general living expenses, or our Travel, Getting Around pages for information about the best ways to get from A to B in the city. And rest assured that all the details you find on MovingtoLondon.net are constantly updated. This means that everything you read here is accurate and current, and will provide a real stepping stone into a smooth transition for your new life in London.