Shops and shopping in Britain
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The British, in the words of Napoleon, is 'a nation of shopkeepers‘. They are also a country of compulsive shoppers. They love to shop! It is their number one leisure activity and accounts for around 37% of all money spent in England.
The main shopping street in many towns is called the High Street, where you should head for if you want to go shopping. A few small shops are owned by local people. Most are owned by national 'chains' of stores. This makes many town centres look the same. Some towns also have street markets where fresh food and cheap goods can be bought . Away from the town centre, small 'corner' shops provide groceries to local customers.
Time to go shopping Peak shopping days are Saturdays and Sundays. Shops are generally open on Bank Holidays. Bank Holidays are a great time to shop as there are many sales on especially around Easter and Christmas.
Typical opening times are: Mondays - Saturdays 9 am to 5:30 pm Some shopping centres stay open until 8 pm or later. Sunday – 10 am to 4 pm (or 11 am to 5 pm) Sunday shopping has become popular in recent years and most large shops in towns are open for business. Shops are only allowed to trade for 6 hours on Sundays. Large supermarkets are open for 24 hours except for Sundays. Many supermarkets and superstores otherwise open from 8am until 10pm from Mondays to Saturdays and 10 am to 4 pm (or 11 am to 5pm) on Sundays.
Public Holidays / Bank Holidays On public holidays some shops open and some shops do not. As a general rule banks will be closed, most supermarkets and large stores will be open (although with reduced Sunday opening hours), and in larger towns many shops will open. Bank Holiday Shop opening times 10am to 4pm (or 11am to 5pm) Over the Christmas and New Year period, all shops are closed on Christmas Day (December 25) and a some shops are closed on New Year's Day (January 1). However, an increasing number of shops are now opening on Boxing Day (December 26), which is when many start their 'New Year' sales. It is likely that most shopping centres will be closed on Easter Sunday and there will be reduced shopping hours on Easter Monday (often from either 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning).
In Villages Some rural shops still follow the tradition of an early closing day (usually Wednesday) when the shops close at 1.00pm.
Banking Hours The major high street banks in England and Wales are Lloyds, Barclays, Midland and National Westminster (Nat West). In Scotland they are the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank. Generally Monday-Friday 9:30 am-3:30 pm. Some branches stay open until 5:30 pm, and a few are open Saturday morning. Most banks will have an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) outside the bank where you can draw out money with a credit or cash card. Many of these are available to use 24 hours a day, but some do still close for a few hours during the night.
Bluewater is the largest out of town shopping development in Europe, located in a disused chalk pit at Dartford in Kent. With more than 300 shops and parking for 13,000 cars, it attracts around 30 million visitors each year. Open: Monday to Friday: 10am – 9pm Saturday: 9am – 8pm Sunday: 11am – 5pm
Department Stores Marks & Spencer’s (for clothes and food) Debenhams and John Lewis and British Home Stores (for clothes and household items), Boots (for toiletries) WHSmith (newsagents, stationers, CDs and DVDs). Debenhams John Lewis Allders Department Store
Department Stores Woolworths House of Fraser Argos Liberty's department store Harrods - the famous department store that every tourist wants to visit. You can find anything from the cheapest to the most expensive things.
Shopping in London London has over 40,000 shops and 26 major street markets to choose from. Oxford Street (Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus) Oxford Street, London's busiest shopping street, is in the heart of the city's West End. It is the place for buying souvenirs, clothes, and so on.
Covent Garden (Nearest Tube: Covent Garden ) Overflowing with street markets, curbside entertainment, trendy cafes, English pubs, and small boutiques. A must visit for all tourists to London. Charringcross Road Charring Cross Road is where book worms go. Mainstream bookshops, such as Foyles, Borders and Blackwells, line the street but perhaps the most unique feature about this road are its rare, second-hand and specialist shops. Foyles is famous for five floors containing thousands of titles.
Tottenham Court Road The best place for electronics shops and furniture stores. Knightsbridge (Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge) Fashion / Designer boutiques
Famous Stores Harrods (Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge) This store is world renowned and is considered an attraction in itself. The "Food Halls" are a popular tourist attraction, along with an abundance of traditional British merchandise. Be prepared to spend a long time in Harold as it contains over 300 departments!
Selfridges (Nearest Tube: Marble Arch) This store has an extensive designer section for both men, women and children, constantly updated by the arrival of international labels.
Hamleys. (Regent Street. Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus ) Hamley`s is every child`s dream come true. It offers seven floors of toys for all ages – from traditional soldiers, dolls and trains to high-tech computer games and robots.
London Markets Petticoat Lane Market is a great place for bargain clothes and shoes. Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street Portobello Market a place to buy antiques, clothes, shoes, bric-a-brac and organic fruit and vegetables all in one place. Nearest Tube: Notting Hill Gate / Ladbroke Grove Camden Market has become one of London's top attractions. You can find hippie cloths, craft stalls, 70's nostalgia and vegetarian food. Nearest Tube: Camden Town / Chalk Farm
Supermarkets Supermarkets tend to be open 7 days a week with longer opening hours - usually until 8pm or 10pm most evenings, with reduced hours of 10am-4pm on a Sunday. Some in larger town stores now open 24 hours
Main Supermarkers Asda stores ltd supermarket Budgens Supermarket CO-OP supermarket Iceland J Sainsburys Safewaygrocery supermarket Somerfield grocery supermarket Tesco supermarket (Britain's largest supermarket chain) Waitrose supermarket