I grew up in Bournemouth, on the south coast of the UK. I first went on a shopping trip to London as a teenager with a friend and her mum, which was beyond exciting at the time.
Now in my thirties, I live and work in London. It has become my home and I am very accustomed to everything here. But I do remember traveling up here from Bournemouth and being stunned at how much money I could burn through in a day’s shopping trip.
As we are now entering the official season of shopping; from filling our stockings to blitzing the January sales, the little costs can really add up. If you are planning a shopping trip to London in the near future, then here are five money-saving tips.
1. Take a packed lunch
The cost of buying a take-away lunch from one of London’s many food chains will blow your socks off. Some of these companies have two prices at the till – one for takeaway and a higher price to eat in.
When it is cold outside that can really catch you out. If I am heading to the shops for the day I always take something from home with me in my bag. You do not want too much food anyway. Carbs will just slow you down, and you have a shopping mission to complete.
2. Don’t default to chain coffee shops
Without naming any brands in particular, we all know whom I am talking about. If you stop to refuel with a coffee then the good old department stores have cafes inside them. Because department stores cafes are not trendy they are cheaper, and also less crowded. Wouldn’t you prefer to put your bags down, sit and relax for a while?
3. Buy a travel card
If you are not a local then you probably will not have an Oyster card. London buses no longer accept cash either so you will want to find a paper or plastic solution for the day.
A day’s travel card will give you the flexibility to hop on and off of transport without paying a premium each time. Take a look at Transport for London’s website to find the best deal for yourself.
4. Shop around a little
One of the best things about shopping in London is the amount of choice. You have so much opportunity to shop around and not just accept the first price you see for something.
5. Don’t fall for the extras at the till
Do you remember when supermarkets used to have their confectionary shelves at each till to entice the queue? That was very crafty of them. Well, some fashion stores have followed suit and try to upsell you at the till or while you are waiting in the queue. Have your guard up; they are sneaky but you have street smarts.
And a final little money tip – have some emergency cash on you. London transport can be unpredictable, and the tube at rush hour is no walk in the park.
If you are relying on catching a coach or train back out of London at the end of the day, allow yourself extra time to get to your station, and that emergency cash is just in case you need a taxi to help you make your connection.
The less you spend on being in London, the more you will have left to shop with. Enjoy the shopping season and happy bargain hunting!