A Sneak Peek at Shopping in London

by Heather Robinette / Feb 22, 2016 /
Heather Robinette's picture

Studying abroad provides you a unique opportunity to live in another country for a period of time. Unlike short vacations, you have the opportunity to live like a local and have the time to not only sight see, but spend time shopping. While I was abroad, I was able to spend time shopping at stores unique to London and stores you can also find in the United States. I’ve put together a list with information about some of the stores I visited, including ones I recommend checking out! 

Shopping in London - a Study Abroad Guide

Argos
Argos is a retail store. I would compare it to Wal-Mart in some ways. You can purchase anything from pillows to iPods in Argos. It is a unique shopping experience because it is set up very differently than most stores. The front of the store is very small, because you walk in and look through a catalog to find the items you need, and then place your order. Once your order is placed and paid for, you sit in the waiting area with your number and wait. When they call your number, you pick up the items you ordered and leave. It took some time to get used to not being able to see what you are purchasing before you do so. When picking out a pillow, it made it tough for me because I wanted to feel the pillow before I purchased it. Instead, I just made my best guess - and luckily I made a good choice. 

Argos. From Shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Wikimedia Commons: Mtaylor848 

NikeTown
NikeTown on Oxford is a very large store with multiple levels. Although the brand is the same worldwide, the stores carry products based on the local sports demands. Since soccer (known as football) is a lot more popular in Europe, the stores carry a larger amount of soccer products. I recall walking into the store and seeing a huge wall of colorful soccer cleats. It was a much different experience than the NikeTown in Chicago that I previously visited. It was a unique opportunity to go into a store I was familiar with and be able to compare them. 

Niketown on Oxford - from Shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Topshop
Topshop is a British apparel store that prides itself in the latest fashions. The largest Topshop location is in the Oxford Circus shopping area. It is one of the 4 buildings/stores you see when you come out of the Oxford Circus tube station. There are also several Topshop stores around the city. There was a smaller store I always walked by on my way back to the dorm from class. If you are into the latest fashions, then this is definitely a store you will want to check out. I’m not big into fashion so I just browsed the store to check it out, but I didn’t spend too much time inside. It reminded me of H&M. I did check out their website and they have opened several storefronts in the US, with the largest one being in New York. 

Topshop - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

St. Christopher’s Place
St. Christopher’s Place was a hidden shopping area that I stumbled upon when exploring one day. My husband’s name (boyfriend at the time) is Christopher and originally I saw the large purple wall with St. Christopher’s Place on it and took a picture. I then start looking around trying to understand what it was referring to. I remember feeling like Alice in Wonderland because I saw the wall, a clock, and a large bush shaped like a heel. I then noticed a small passage between the buildings that lead to more, so I walked through it and to my surprise, I found several shops and restaurants. I came across a sign that explained the history of the little shopping area, which was fascinating to learn about, and I ended up staying there for a couple hours looking around and checking out the shops. 

St. Christopher’s Place - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

St. Christopher’s Place - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

St. Christopher’s Place - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

St. Christopher’s Place - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

St. Christopher’s Place - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

St. Christopher’s Place - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

St. Christopher’s Place - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Debenhams
I actually went into Debenhams out of curiosity. It is a department store on Oxford St near the Oxford Circus tube station. There are quite a few stores on Oxford St, so I stopped in one day and was surprised to find that it was a lot larger than I expected. It also carried a good variety of items. It reminded me of Macy’s and Dillard’s back in the states. I actually ended up going back towards the end of my trip and purchasing an additional duffle bag to put souvenirs in and a small luggage scale to help me with packing and ensuring I met the weight requirement. Like many of my study abroad stories, I had never heard of Debenhams, but I never turned down a chance to explore a new store or area and it never failed that I always came across some great places.

Debenhams - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Harrods
Harrods was a very unique and interesting department store that I would highly recommend visiting. It is an upscale department store, so you most likely won’t purchase anything (especially on a student budget), but it was incredible to walk around and see everything. Many of the stores carried items that cost several thousand pounds. To put that into perspective, a Trikke I came across was £2,000 and with the exchange rate at almost $1.50 for every £1, it would have cost almost $3,000. I spent several hours wandering around the different floors. I did purchase a small teddy bear with the Harrods logo on it as a souvenir.   

Harrod's - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Harrod's - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Harrod's - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Harrod's - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Harrod's - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Harrod's - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

Harrod's - from shopping in London - a study abroad guide

I hope this list is able to help you if you plan to do some shopping in London. My recommendation is to check out any store that looks interesting - you never know what you’ll find. I walked into Debenhams without a clue of what to expect and was shocked when I discovered the huge store. You may not intend to buy anything in a store you visit, but I believe it is all part of the study abroad experience to explore stores that you have never heard of and learn new things about the country and culture you have immersed yourself in. 

 

Heather Robinette is the London Study Abroad Editor for Wandering Educators. She notes, "During the summer of 2011, I studied abroad for six weeks in London at the University of Westminster with Academics Programs International. I graduated from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. I currently work as a marketing analyst for a small company in central Texas. I currently work as a marketing coordinator for a real estate firm in Las Vegas, NV. I am also pursuing my MBA. While I was abroad in London, I was able to create many unforgettable memories that I will never forget! My study abroad experience helped me gain various skills, but above all else, it helped me to learn more about myself and the world around me." You can find her online at http://www.heatherrobinette.com/

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Heather Robinette except where noted.