The best outlets and villages are a great way to grab a great designer bargain, whether you’re shopping for fashion, beauty, or homewares. Here’s how to get the most out of your visit and where to go for what.
What should you buy from outlet stores?
As a general rule, it’s best to focus on designer products that you’ll use forever, but might not have been able to reach without the price drop. Think jewellery, handbags or leather handbags, designer coats and jackets, luxury lingerie or trendy shoes, rather than quick fashion purchases that you will quickly tire of.
Denim is another great staple that never goes out of style: “Levi’s never disappoints.” Their range is so wide it’s impossible not to make a purchase and I find their jeans fit perfectly,” says Janine Constantin-Russell, General Manager of ICON Outlet at The O2.
And while fashion is at the forefront of your mind, you can also usually find big savings on high-end electrical appliances, kitchenware, home furnishings and luggage, so be sure to also visit the lifestyle section.
How can you get the best deals at outlet stores?
According to Janine, you should always have a game plan before you go – there are often so many brands and stores in an outlet that it can feel a bit overwhelming, so take a look at the website and prioritize those you absolutely want to visit. Also check the sales section of the brand’s websites and see if there is a click and collect option, as you might even be able to get a flight to pick up when you visit in person.
Go out for hours
If you still think that shopping hours are 9am to 5pm, think again – many outlets open late at night when the shops are much quieter and the pace is more relaxed. The day of your visit can also have an impact: “If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and hunt for the perfect best buys, visit one of the centers mid-week,” advises Christophe Deshayes, Managing Director United Kingdom. United at McArthurGlen, which has 24 outlets in nine countries around the world. Well, when you think about it, the less busy the stores are, the less competition there is for those bargains…
Shop off season
When are you likely to get the best price on a winter coat? When no one else buys one. Stores often have inventory they need to change regardless of the weather, so if you can plan far enough in advance, you might end up finding your perfect-priced bikini in December or some amazing boots in August.
Watch out for multiple buy offers
“I love my new Raybans from Sunglass Hut, which I bought for £86 instead of £119. And with their offer of 30-40% off your second pair, I got my husband a new pair too sunglasses,” adds Janine. If you’re in the market for more than one similar item, see if you can spot any bulk purchase discounts — and if it’s not listed on the shelves, that always worth asking. And speaking of…
ask the staff
If you live nearby or come back often and don’t see anything in store that inspires you, ask the staff what day their new stock comes in. Identifying their schedule means you’ll have an idea of the best days to research future visits and can beat everyone else to those prime purchases.
Consider a plan
Bicester Village, one of the best-known and best-loved shopping centers of its kind, offers a shopping day experience, which costs £99, and can seem steep from the get-go. However, included in this price you get return coach tickets from central London, lunch or dinner, a £50 voucher to spend on your trip and a 10% VIP discount in all shops, which suddenly gives the impression that a lot more of a bargain…
When should you visit outlet stores for the best deals?
Sale season is the obvious answer: “We’re offering up to 60% off RRP prices every day, all year round, but with the launch of our summer sale, brands will be offering up to 70 % off,” says Janine.
However, don’t just think about Christmas and summer – many outlets have members’ clubs you can join, which will let you know when a flash sale is going on. “To be ahead of the sales, find out about our latest news and receive exclusive invitations to events before anyone else, a little advice is to sign up for our Privilege Club which will unlock a range of incredible offers,” Christophe tells About the McArthur Glen Group. .
Experts also recommend following your chosen outlet on social media and also signing up for their newsletters – it’s the fastest way to keep up to date with all the latest promotions throughout the year. year, and you might even get an extra discount for your loyalty.
The original, and what many would say is still the best, Bicester Village is a luxurious, upmarket take on outlet shopping. An impressive two million journeys have been made via Bicester Village station since it opened in October 2015, which speaks for itself. The destination, which sits just outside London in Oxfordshire, offers a range of your favorite designer brands at deep discounts (up to 60% off), including Celine, Gucci, Fendi and Stella McCartney . Bicester also offers more affordable mid-range brands (think COS and Levi’s), beauty and home brands, and also offers places you can go to eat.
ICON Outlet at the O2
The newest of London’s retail outlets, ICON Outlet is located inside the O2 in Greenwich. Not as upscale as Bicester but still well stocked, this is a good option if you live in the capital or are visiting for the day. Brands vary from mid-range designers like Aspinal of London and Calvin Klein, to more affordable brands like Gap, The Body Shop and Clarks. And yes, you will do good business.
McArthurGlen Designer Outlet York
Located just ten minutes from York city centre, it is easily accessible for locals and visitors alike. There are more brands than you can throw at a Lacoste shirt here, with every budget and taste in mind – and of course there are deep discounts. Top options include Coach, Kate Spade, Kurt Geiger, and Nike. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for luxury beauty deals from Penhaligon’s and Molton Brown, as well as discounted Le Creuset for your dream kitchen.
Gretna Gateway Outlet Village, Scotland
While there are some good fashion options at Gretna Gateway, it’s best to head there for household goods and food, where there are the most varied offerings. Take a trip (and take full advantage of the free parking) to shop Cadbury, Lakeland, M&S and Procook. You will certainly leave satisfied and well equipped in the kitchen.
McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks
Owned by the same company behind the York outlet, the Cheshire branch offers a similar range of impressive brands and is located 35 minutes from Manchester and 45 minutes from Liverpool. With over 140 stores, it is the largest multi-store outlet in the UK and includes brands such as Pandora, Lulu Guinness, Links of London and Samsonite. Many stores here also hold their summer sales.
Designed for hip East Londoners, Hackney Walk reimagined 12 Victorian railway arches on Morning Lane in E9. The outlet stocks a host of modern and cool brands, including Zadig & Voltaire, Nike and Anya Hindmarch, and also offers The Box: a concept store that offers high-end fashion sample sales and looks direct from the catwalk with up to 80% off. This place is solid proof that outlets can definitely be cool.