London is shoppers’ heaven, especially during the January and July sales. World-famous department stores such as Harrods in Knightsbridge and Harvey Nichols in Sloane Square see chaos just after Christmas, with bargain-hunters lining up overnight to grab designer fashions and other goodies at half-price or less. Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street offer every kind of UK retail experience, from huge multi-level stores such as Selfridges and Debenhams to exclusive boutiques. London’s street markets feature goods from all over the world at great prices, with Camden Market and the smaller Islington Market two of the best.
The popular hub of Covent Garden has quirky shops selling gifts, souvenirs and alternative fashions, all set in a historic district with street entertainers, bistros, restaurants and bars perfect for a night out in the UK. Chinatown in Soho is small, but unique, with ethnic shops selling foods and Chinese artifacts.
Shopping opportunities in Edinburgh range from upscale fashions and housewares to Scotland’s famous malt whiskies, clan tartans and traditional kilts, shawls, the pure wool knitwear from the Scottish Islands, and the beautiful Cairngorm silver-set hardstone jewelry. Antiques, especially Scottish silver, are also a good buy. Princes Street and the Royal Mile are the premier shopping areas, while Victoria Street has pretty buildings and interesting shops.
Pedestrianized Queen Street is Cardiff’s main retail hub for high fashion, and boasts street performers and musicians, while Mermaid Quay in the redeveloped port district is great for boutiques and jewelry stores. Belfast has all the usual malls and shopping centers, and Celtic jewelry, Irish linen, Aran knitwear, and the famous Irish crystal glassware all make great souvenirs.