In the town centres shops generally open at 9am, and close at 5.30. The larger stores also open on Sundays from 10am until 4pm. Large out-of-town shopping centres are on the increase, and these often open for longer hours on weekdays – often until 10pm. Sunday opening is still restricted to six hours however. The large shopping centres are the best place for cheaper prices, but you will miss all the interesting, friendly, unusual, and bizarre shops that you find in the average British high street.
First and foremost, any visitor to the UK could not help but be impressed with the sheer range of retail outlets that exist in all towns and cities across the country. Admittedly though, if you ask any British citizen, they will all tell you that the majority of the High streets are very generic; all offering the same named brands and stores.
To find retail units that are more unique and specialised, your best bet is to head to the more ‘touristy’ towns. This definitely includes the quaint university and most famous cathedral cities where there are side streets crammed full of completely independent retailers selling their wares.
With so many ubiquitous names on the average high street, the UK shopping scene has often been described as cloned. However, this does provide a sense of familiarity and at least a Brit will always know where they are and which stores they can rely upon. Some good examples of the types of retail units that you can expect to find in any central business district include:
Department Stores: The old fashioned ‘Grace Brothers’ image of the traditional British Department store has somewhat evolved over the years, in an attempt to appeal to the more contemporary customer. That said, you may still stumble across such a relic to the past.
Today though, department stores really do make every effort to keep the fashions on sale up-to-date and as close to the catwalks as possible. Best of all, these price tags are considerably lower than what you could expect to pay through a major fashion house. The stores also sell every other conceivable item: from bedding and soft furnishings, to three piece suites and even food halls.
No UK high street would be complete without at least half a dozen retail outlets that concentrate on selling clothing. Primarily, women are always catered for the most, in this regard, but as men are becoming more and more fashion conscious nowadays, a better representation is slowly starting to appear. You can also expect to find several stores offering pharmaceutical products, music stores, confectioners… basically, you name it, you will be able to find it.
A relatively more modern trend for the UK shopping scene has tended to be a move out of the traditional, central shopping areas, as out-of-town supermarkets and retail parks are the order of the day. These are vast complexes that are an homage to any type of product that you could ever imagine. These offer customers far easier ways of getting to them and parking is far less of an issue than having to battle through the congested traffic in the town and city centres.
If we are talking about UK shopping, we simply have to cover the range of prices that you can expect to pay. Let’s be honest here and say, straight from the start, that these price tags are likely to be higher than where you are from. The only countries where you will expect to pay more than the United Kingdom are those of Scandinavia. As the UK is now in the EU, citizens have been able to venture to other countries and compare prices. This has left all Brits feeling completely disgruntled, especially when you can simply take a ferry to France and Belgium and pay considerably less. This has earned the UK the title of ‘Rip-off Britain’ and this was thought up through the actual people living in the country.