Shopping in Britain offers it all ? great department stores, chic boutiques, and bustling markets. And though prices aren’t cheap, bargains abound. A look at the shopping scene in three of the UK’s great cities ? London, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
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Napoleon famously remarked that Britain was a nation of shopkeepers and it’s still true today. But bear in mind that taxes are high with VAT a whopping 17.5%. Fortunately discount outlets and other types of bargain shopping abound.
Other than purchases from bargain outlets, your best buys are things made in Britain that would cost more abroad. These include Body Shop and Filofax products along with woolens and cashmere items.
Shopping In London
London is one of the world’s great shopping cities. From the swank excitement of Harrods to the cosmopolitan colour of Portobello Road street market, the whole city seems like one huge emporium. Here we’ll take a look at the famous West End.
The West End was long the traditional heart of London shopping and still attracts bargain hunters from all over the world. Renowned Oxford Street has revamped its facade over recent decades. The big old faithfuls such as Marks and Spencers are still there but much of the area has been taken over by ethnic specialty stores.However, if it’s tradition you’re after, nearby Regent and Bond streets still retain their exclusive upmarket air.
One great ‘new’ place in the West End to pick up threads is the famous Carnaby Street now rising from the ashes. Once the colourful haunt of 60s models, actors, musicians and fashion photographers, the area is now attracting a new wave of designers.
Shopping In Birmingham
For another great UK shopping experience, head up the M1 to Birmingham. Brum, as the UK’s second largest city is affectionately known, is home to over 700 retail stores, including the queen of them all, Selfridges.
Other notable outlets include the Mailbox complex at Wharfside Street. Once Birmingham’s mail sorting hub, it’s now a huge shopping center and home to all the grand department stores including Harvey Nichols. You can also find all your favorite labels here including Armani, Hugo Boss and Jaeger.
Another city-center parvenu is The Bullring. It’s Europe’s biggest city-center retail zone and offers a more down to earth shopping experience that the Mailbox with offerings from H M, Gap, FCUK, and Footlocker.
Shopping In Edinburgh
North of the border, Scotland’s capital city offers a medley of boutiques, souvenir shops, and department stores including old steadfast John Lewis. Harvey Nichols, darling of the Absolutely Fabulous crowd, has also arrived in “Auld Reekie” in recent years.
New Town’s Princes Street is Edinburgh’s principal shopping thoroughfare and home to the leading department stores. For more exclusive outlets, such as Laura Ashley, George Street is the place to go.
For tourists in search of tartan, Highland trinkets, kilts or sporrans, the Old Town’s Royal Mile is the mother lode.