London's best shops and department stores may be taking down the Christmas lights and tossing their trees to the curb, but for bargain hunters visiting in search of a heavy dose of retail therapy the festivities have only just begun with the launch of the annual winter sales. So if Santa didn't quite get it right in 2013, a New Year's resolution to hit the high streets of London might be just the thing for ringing in 2014 in fine style (and at a fraction of what it might usually cost).
Post-Christmas winter sales usually start on Boxing Day (December 26th) and run a few weeks into January. They're a big thing too – and seem only to get bigger each year. For example, this season's sales at world famous Harrods were actually kicked off with a performance by Cirque du Soleil with an estimated 250,00 shoppers flocking to the iconic department store in hopes of finding a bargain. The Harrods Winter Sale continues until 6pm on Sunday the 19th of January.
Strategic areas to keep in mind for making the most of your bargain hunting expedition include the following:
- Oxford Circus, for easy access to dozens of flagships shops along Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street as well as a number of department stores such as Liberty, Selfridges and John Lewis
- Knightsbridge, for high end and designer outlets plus Harrods and Harvey Nichols department stores
- London's two Westfield shopping centres at Shepherd's Bush (west London) and Stratford (east) for an all-in-one mall experience;
- Bond Street, for some of the biggest names in luxury goods and fashion
- Covent Garden and the nearby neighbourhood of Seven Dials or a unique mix of historic and trendy with something for everyone whether local or from out of town
- Boxpark – the world's first pop-up container mall – in Shoreditch for hipster dudes and quirky buys and
- The Chatham Street designer factory outlets (Burberry, Pringle of Scotland and Aquascutum) in Hackney.
During the winter sales, finding discounts of up to 75% are not uncommon. Of course, the sooner you can get shopping the better but don't despair if you're arriving in London toward the middle of January. The later the sales date the better the bargain in many cases, with prices being slashed on an almost daily basis as retailers try to make room for new inventory.
Photo credit: Chris Osburn