UK shopping is not as inexpensive as it once was. The strength of the British pound and UK currency has made UK shopping one of the more pricey endeavors on a vacation to the UK. For just about anyone traveling to the UK, shopping UK has been relegated to souvenir or special item shopping. Though you aren"t likely to find a bargain when shopping UK, you will find some interesting souvenirs, and there are some great markets for shopping UK that are worth checking out whether you plan to buy something or not.
UK shopping for fashion is usually centered on London. London is on par with New York and Paris as a major fashion capital in the world, and there are overwhelming amounts of shopping options in London. If it"s England shopping you are after, you will likely want to start in London.
England shopping in London is best tackled with a little planning. Knowing what you are looking for can help you eliminate the hassle of pushing through markets or shops that you may not want or need to visit. If London is at the heart of England shopping, then Regent Street is one of the vital veins of this shopping network. Many of the most popular brand stores and bargain outlets can be found on Regent Street. Take a bus or the Tube to avoid parking, as there is basically none available.
Nearby, department store enthusiasts will enjoy a stroll along either Oxford Street or Knightsbridge. These streets are home to the ever-popular Harrods and Harvey Nichols, both of which are insanely appealing for local and foreign shoppers. For music, books, and smaller shops, try the out-of-the-way streets. You won"t have as many crowds to fight and some of the local owners are incredibly welcoming to tourists.
Scotland shopping has a different flavor altogether then England. Of course, Glasgow and Edinburgh still feature many of the high end outlets and department stores that tourists will find in London, and of course they still take the same UK currency, but Scotland shopping for many has a quainter feel.
Outside the big cities, Scotland shopping can reveal some of the most unique shops and hand crafted local items in the world. Since many residents of Scotland are the descendents of families who have been in place for many generations, cultural traditions have been passed right down through the bloodline. Some of the most fascinating shops will be found in the smaller villages and gift shops that line the shore. These are great places to pick up gifts or special souvenirs by which to remember your trip to Scotland.
Antique shopping is also quite popular among UK shoppers. As a country with hundreds of years of history, antique shopping can turn up some wonderful goodies for those who love antiques. Most of the larger cities in the UK feature excellent antique shops.
One important thing for travelers to note is that in addition to the high rate of UK currency exchange, the government imposes a tax of about 19% on all purchases. This tax is referred to as the VAT (value added tax). The good news for you regarding VAT is that as a non-British resident you are eligible for a tax refund on your purchases (you should expect to get about 15% back). In order to get this refund, you must get a VAT refund form from the retailer that sells you your goods, and you must have them fill it out for you right then and there. No exceptions.
Whether you plan to indulge in full-fledged retail therapy, or simply pick up a paperweight to remind you of your travels once you"re back to your daily life, shopping in the UK can be a fun way to stroll through the towns and see the country.