I wonder if the London Sales have lost their cachet.
Everywhere in England, from the High Street to the great out of town hypermarkets, bright red stickers proclaim up to 90 percent off. In this recession, many retailers are slashing their stock, trying to get enough cash through the tills in the next few days to pay the rent bill.
Go down Oxford Street and you’ll see many of the same stores you can visit anywhere else. There’s nothing so special about that.
But that’s only one side of the story. In fact, London’s big department stores still provide the best shopping you can get – if you’re into designer fashion, this is the place. Stop thinking cheap knickers from Primark, start thinking knockdown Dries van der Noten, and you’re in luck. And with sterling collapsing as financial markets hit meltdown, the London sales might be quite a tempting target for North American shoppers. (Anecdotal evidence suggests the French are over here big time, too, taking advantage of the strong euro.)
Besides, consumers know the retailers are strapped for cash. So there are an awful lot of people heading for the sales – those that have already opened in London, like Selfridges, have seen huge crowds and actually broken sales records. It’s going to be a wonderful experience – the crowds, a sense of urgency, the Christmas lights still up, massive discounts, the chance to get an amazing bargain. Or to get something that looked good at the time and you’ll never wear again. (Hear the voice of experience?)
So where are the best sales?
- Harrods - maybe not the best (I’m a Harvey Nicks person myself) but certainly the one that gets the headlines.
- Harvey Nichols – the sale for the fashionista, I think. If you want to do just the big stores, combine this with Harrods. Or wander down Sloane Street for more fashion brands. 50% off everything is promised.
- Liberty - discounts up to 75% in this marvellous store. Lots of fashion, and a chance to buy the lovely Liberty prints. My personal favourite – pretty sequinned silk slippers for £10. Hope I can find them in the real shop as well as on the website! Liberty will also be selling mystery boxes at various prices – the contents are guaranteed to far exceed in value the price you pay for the box, so it’s a risk worth taking. I like a gamble so this will be my sale for the year!
- Selfridges - the doyen of Oxford Street. Something for everyone here. Take a rest from shopping if the salt beef bar is open – a superb place to grab a bite to eat.
- Hamleys - I’d recommend not taking kids to the sales; the crowds can get scary and it’s difficult to make sure you’re not going to get separated in the scrum. But if you do want to shop with kids, this big toy store is the place.
- Fortnum & Mason is best known for its food hall – and luxurious Christmas hampers – but there will be reductions of up to 50% on clothing, furniture and cookware too.
- Fenwick in Bond Street is another fashion sale that’s worth visiting. 50% off here with some really nice labels, and it’s a little off the beaten track.
Good luck! Even if you buy very little – or nothing – I hope you’ll have fun looking.
Photo credit – Fin Fahey on flickr