If you’re planning a first-time visit to the UK in the coming year, you will no doubt be eagerly looking forward to seeing some of the world’s most familiar landmarks and soaking up the culture and history of a truly fascinating country. Whether you plan to be in the heart of the idyllic countryside or the centre of a bustling city, the chances are you will want to set aside a little time for some retail therapy.

Shopping in Britain can be a hugely enjoyable experience, but it can also be more than a little stressful at times. In the UK you’re unlikely to find shortages of any item in the stores, and your choice will extend from cheap, plentiful groceries to the very latest in cutting edge fashions. Here are five tips to help you get the very best from your experience, and to make you want to return again at some point in the future.

Avoid the crowds

Many of Britain’s shopping areas become exceptionally congested at certain times, and for most consumers, especially those who are in unfamiliar surroundings, this can spoil the whole trip. Saturday afternoons are especially busy, and weekdays during school holiday periods can be hectic. As you might expect, the weeks leading up to Christmas are also particularly overpowering.

When to haggle, when not to haggle

In many countries around the world, haggling is a way of life. The price you see in a window or on a tag is often no more than a guide, but this isn’t usually the case in Britain. In most stores, the price you see is the price you will be expected to pay. There are exceptions, however, such as in markets and at antique fairs, but in most shops there is no bargaining. You can try it in independent stores, but it’s unlikely to be deemed acceptable in larger ones.

Shop where you can afford to

If you plan to partake of a little retail therapy in any of the major cities, it’s worth doing a little research on the Internet before you go. There are areas in London, for example, which are home to some exceptionally glitzy stores which cater for the wealthy, and if you can’t afford the prices you will save time by looking elsewhere. There is something for everyone in British cities, but you need to know where to look.

Keep an eye open for the bargains

If you’re on a budget during your stay, you should make sure you look for the best deals when shopping. You may already have saved money on your trip by using companies like 121 Car Hire to find cheaper travel options, so why negate the savings by spending more than you have to? Many stores hold sales in January, so this is always a good month for bargain hunters.

Check out the supermarkets

Large supermarkets in the UK sell far more than just groceries, and it’s often the case that they offer the lowest prices on items such as electrical goods, household items and clothing. Needless to say, if you’re looking to buy food as well, you can combine the two and find all you need under one convenient roof. Again, it makes sense to look for the best deals, such as two for one offers and discounted prices.

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