Your guide to shopping in the UK

Shopping in the UK requires being in the right place at the right time. A lot of Nigerians visit the UK to shop for friends, family and business. Whatever your reason, we have put this article together to educate you on where to shop and how to shop when next you visit the UK. We will also tell you a bit about how to save money or make your money work for you when you come on your next holiday to the UK.

1. Sunday Market:

I know it sounds like Alaba market lol! but that’s not the case, Sunday markets in the UK are weekly markets only open on Sundays where people sell a wide range of designer wears at ridiculously low prices. The markets are usually busy as many people especially those who re-sell go to buy and sell in Nigeria. The trick here is to buy in bulk; when you do, the traders tend to reduce the price even further. It may not be best for people buying just a few items but it’s a lot cheaper than the shops. You can find authentic designer wears on sale because of one of two things, they maybe old stock/old designs left in the stores or the clothes may have a small production error eg a button missing. Example of a Sunday Market and one of the best places to visit is Liverpool Street in London.

Pros:

1. The clothes are of very high quality.

2. They are cheaper than you would find in the shops.

3. You can buy in bulk and save more money.

Cons:

1. The market is usually crowded

2. Make sure to Check the Label (Check that the tag has the brand name) so you don’t end up with China products.

3. Depending on what you buy it may need some work.

2. Outlet Shops:

The UK fashion stores have a lot of outlet stores. They are usually located in smaller towns in the outskirts of big cities. It is usually an area or a mall with a number of stores, so you can literally stroll into all of them one after the other. Outlet stores are located in many regions; just ask your friends and family. Here’s a list of some

  • Glasshoughton (Junction 32 Outlet Shopping Village)
  • York designer outlet mall
  • Ashford Designer Outlet
  • Swindon Designer Outlet
  • Bridgewater Park Outlet Shopping Centre

Pros:

1. You will normally find items from the same retailer cheaper in outlet stores compared to the same store located on the high street.

2. Never too far out of town, there are transport links – bus, train, etc to most outlet malls.

3. Items are of the same quality as those sold in other locations. And with most retailers, you can return items usually within 30days.

Cons:

1. Returns are sometimes limited to outlet stores only. The main stores may not taken them.

2. You may spend over your budget as  there are lots of shops to go into and most or all of them on sales.

3. Shop Online:

The good thing about shopping online is that it’s a whole lot easier to shop from the comfort of your own home. Shopping online gives you a whole lot of options because all the stock available to the Store are displayed online. If you go into a store in town, you are only restricted to what that store has and their stock maybe limited. Always visit the clearance section on the shop’s website and the outlet section if they have it online. For example, Marks & Spencer (M&S) has an online outlet section where they display stock they have at their outlet centers all over, that will save you the trip of going to the outlet center. Another good website to check is www.asos.com.

Pros:

1. Saves you time, you do not need to visit the shops and is less stressful.

2. Clothes are authentic and the payment process is easy and secure.

3. Access to entire stock in all the stores.

Cons:

1. You do not have the option of trying the clothes before you buy; but you can try it when it is delivered and return it in store if you do not want it, ususally within 30 days.

2. Can not see or feel the quality of the material or item before you buy; you are limited to the photo provided online.

3. You need a card to make payment online, Nigerian cards work online sometimes depending on the type of card and the bank. Alternatively you can use a card from a friend or family.

4. Buy From Stores in Administration:

It is always good to shop from stores that are closing down. Sometime companies cannot afford to keep certain stores open so they sell of all the items in that store at a ridiculously low price. Don’t worry, it is never hidden, the store will have massive signs saying they are closing down.

Pros:

1. All items must leave the shop so the prices are very low.

Cons:

1. You may be tempted to over spend.

2. Items move very fast and sometimes there maybe a crowd.

3. Returns may be limited. A lot of stores either don’t allow returns or reduce the number of days within which you can return unwanted items

5. Summer Sales:

This is one of the best times to shop in the UK. Summer sales generally start around July and end in Aug/Sept but this depends solely on the weather. The UK has been known to have inconsistent seasons, so the length of summer sales depends on when the summer period/weather starts and how long it lasts for.

I hope I have not confused you, the bottom line is that summer sales start round about July and end at the most in early September. This is the mega sales period in UK where almost everything can be bought cheaper than normal. The is the best time to visit the top expensive brands to buy whatever items you love. And summer outfits are best for Nigerian weather.

Pros:

1. All the brands will be on Sales round about the same time.

2. You can buy clothes that will soothe the Nigerian weather.

3. Cheap Cheap Cheap

Cons:

1. Stocks change everyday depending on what they have left. Go in time so you have a variety to choose from.

2. Tendency to over spend.

6. Mix And Match 

A lot of Nigerians frown at clothes from budget stores such as Primark, Matalan, etc. However, there is no harm in mixing and matching your brands. You don’t necessarily have to pick all items from Harvey Nichols, Zara, House of Fraser; you can get some nice accessories to compliment what you have. Primark has a range of items – blazers, accessories, etc that you can wear with your high street brands and nobody will know it Primark unless you tell them. A lot about fashion has to do with the way you carry yourself, if you feel like a million dollars, you will look like a million dollars simple!

So my people, no forming oh! That being said, no need to be penny wise and pound foolish, there are some things that need not be from Primark depending on how often you plan to use it. But if you ask me, children’s everyday wear you can get from Primark because children grow everyday but for outings you can invest a bit more money and try Next, Dorothy Perkins, etc. Next is not so cheap but  it’s also not too expensive for baby wear.

Pros:

1. You save money.

2. No one will know unless they drag your collar or you tell them

3. You can buy more.

Cons:

1. You need to know the right things to mix and match.

2. Some cheaper quality items do not survive excess use.

7. Spread Your Shopping Dates

Don’t finish up your shopping in one day; stores restock all the time, you might not find something today and the next day you find it. Do not be impulsive, take you time and make the right decision. Ask questions in the store especially when you can not find your size, and try the item on it is free and you can try on as many as you like.

Pros:

1. You make a better purchase decision

Cons:

1. Sometimes it takes a bit of luck to find the best.

8. Buy From Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s 

Unknown to many Nigerians, grocery strores in the UK such as Tesco, Asda, & Sainsbury’s have diversified into the fashion industry. Tesco has a couple of fashion brands – F&F, Ann Harvey, Ella Shoes, Influence, Panache, Stella Morgan, etc. Asda has George, Moda, G21, Barbara Hulanicki, South Dean Street, Boston Crew, Dissident, DCode, Charlie Allen, just to mention a few. Sainsbury’s works with well known fashion designers such as Gok Wan.

Some items from Asda

Items from Tesco

Truth be said, I used to frown at buying clothes from these stores until I did a bit of research. The UK fashion store works like this, all these stores work with suppliers who design, manufacture and then deliver fashion items to the stores. For example, 10 different stores  will normally get their items in bulk orders from the same supplier but price them differently. This is why a lot of stores seem to have very similar designs, it’s only because they’ve sourced their items from the same supplier. Therefore, it makes no sense to pay more for an item in shop A for an item of the same quality, fabric, etc than in shop B. My friend tried out Tesco online store for clothes and she fell in love with it. The clothes may not be branded Zara or LV but the quality is fantastic non the less. Try out Tesco and Asda clothing stores online or in store, the clothes are cheaper than top brands.


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Ugo is an author at www.gistus.com.
  • Anonymous

    Great article, well researched

  • Anonymous

    nice….true that but u forgot one of the nearest outlet malls to London that plenty of Naija folks dont know about..The Bicester Village Outlet mall in Buckinghamshire.

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