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A Rookie Guide to Christmas and Boxing Day Sales in London

A Rookie Guide to Christmas and Boxing Day Sales in London

Picture of Sarah Leigh Bannerman
Updated: 23 November 2017

For many, the post-holiday sales are just as important as the pre-Christmas shopping itself and traditionally, many British retailers go into discount on Boxing Day. Recent years, however, have seen a shift in behavior with fashion and lifestyle brands starting early to get those last-minute gift buyers before the 25th as well as throughout January. Read on to discover our tips, tricks and tidbits on how to master London’s Christmas and Boxing Day sales this festive season.

1. Be prepped pre-Christmas

Although it’s a risky game if what you’re after isn’t widely available on the high street, it might be worth making that list, checking it twice and then waiting… waiting until the week before Christmas (typically sometime between the 18th and the 21st) when many fashion and lifestyle brands start their first sale markdowns. Those of us early enough to be ready in time for Black Friday might be sitting smugly in the corner, pleased with our gifting and party outfit bargains, but if you’re somewhat less organised then fear not – sometimes playing the long game pays off. Sign up to receive email marketing campaigns from your favourite fashion and department stores as they’ll often send out a ‘preview code’ to use prior to public knowledge, so you’ll get first pick of the offers.

2. It’s a great time to buy wrapping essentials for next year

As is to be expected, just about everything festive-looking gets heavily discounted the minute that Christmas Day is over so it’s the best time to buy all of those little extras you eschew in early December in lieu of the necessities. Make the fourth floor at Selfridges your 2018 Christmas mecca whilst you’re still in the mood – it’s decked out with indulgent decorations, beautiful wrapping and the kinds of ‘just-incase’ gifts that are useful to have on reserve in the case of an emergency (think, White Company candles pre-wrapped for when that distant relative pops in unannounced). Alternatively, we love a little trip to Anthropologie for a dose of festive cheer – their beautiful tree decorations make for a stunning secret Santa option if you’re in the market for something a little more luxe than the classic turkey hat this year.

3. Don’t expect to find bargain beauty and skincare

If there’s one thing that slips through the net just about every time stores go into discount it’s beauty and skincare. When the rest of the Harvey Nichols collections, for example, get marked down to 25% off, beauty and make-up sticks at a much less exciting 10%. It’s the same across the board. However, there are ways to be savvy: bookmark your favourite items and do a little research to see what gift sets they’re a part of this year as these are the kinds of items that won’t stay on the shop floor for long – they’ve got ‘stocking filler’ written all over them after all. Yes, you might end up with mini versions of the good stuff or something you never wanted as part of the same box set but it could also be a good way to beat the system and stock up on that all-important face cream.

4. Plan your travel route

Whilst the thought of travelling into London on Boxing Day might evoke a feeling of nostalgia, there are logistics that need to be considered if it’s going to be an all-round enjoyable experience. Travel is the first thing that might throw a spanner in the works as many overground services don’t run on Bank Holidays, so be sure to check the week before and make adjustments accordingly… the last thing anyone wants when they’re carting around enough shopping bags to sink a ship is to be hit with a rail replacement bus service. If driving is your best option then perhaps head to one of the Westfield shopping centres in Stratford or Shepherd’s Bush but we suggest hitting the roads in good time to secure a decent parking spot.

5. Trust in the good old-fashioned department store

Whilst going directly to your favourite brand is undoubtedly the quickest way to shop for sale buys, there’s also something to be said for taking a little time to cross-check with department stores or online retailers that might also be offering discounts on the label. Debenhams, for example, is perhaps not the most glamorous of shopping destinations but it lists the likes of Mango and Ted Baker in its brand catalogue and whilst Mango might go into 30% off between Christmas and New Year, Debenhams could be offering 40% across the store. Think savvy and you might just end up with a little extra money to play with.

@camillecharriere wearing our velvet bead bag. Bag: 13075703 #mangogirls #mangofw17

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6. Harrods puts on a good show

Whether you’re in Knightsbridge to shop or not, there’s something extra special – and extra British – about taking a trip to Harrods at Christmas time. The Boxing Day sale might be a bold decision if you’re not after the bargains (partly because those who are dedicated to the cause can be terrifying and also because, let’s face it, you probably will end up buying something after all), the retailer certainly puts on a show. Last year, staff were handing around complimentary snacks to the shoppers that arrived early doors and then at 10am when the store opened, hey presto! they switched from the perfect hosts to the perfect performers, dazzling the crowds with song and dance to set the mood for the day.

7. The Shop at Bluebird is one of London’s hidden gems

If there’s one fashion destination that we’re reluctant to share with the whole of London, it’s The Shop At Bluebird on the King’s Road. Why? Because it’s exactly where we head for to find the kinds of investment pieces that truly get admired. The collection spans contemporary labels such as Rixo as well as the likes of Valentino and Gucci and the items chosen from said collections have been carefully curated to create what would be the most ideal wardrobe if we just took one of everything. Inspiring, aspirational, and the first place on our list when the sales hit, it’s the only excuse we need to indulge in a little designer fashion for the New Year.

8. Click and collect where possible

If there’s an item that’s been on your wishlist for some time and you’ve patiently waited for the discounts to roll in before committing to the purchase, there can be little more disappointing than turning up on Boxing Day just to find it’s either out of stock or the variations that are available on the shop floor look like sale items (read: it’s been tried and tested by a hundred other Oxford Street shoppers before you’ve managed to come to its rescue). And that’s exactly why we’re advocates of click and collect. Not only do you eliminate the chance of it being on display but you also dodge delivery charges. Alternatively, now’s a great time to put technology to the test as just about every fashion retailer on the market either has an app (some are undoubtedly better than others) or at the very least, a good mobile website. Check stock in your local store whilst you’re out and about to make sure that you’re not wasting your time heading to a branch that isn’t going to deliver.

9. Lanes of London makes for a perfect mid-spree pick me up

Whilst you may be stuffed full of turkey and trimmings from the day before, you’ve also still got the perfect excuse to treat yourself – shopping is cardio and it is Bank Holiday after all, so we recommend booking in to Lanes of London, the restaurant at the Marriott Hotel, for their festive afternoon tea. Seasonally appropriate in its menu (think duck bacon finger sandwiches, Christmas pudding bonbons and scones with mulled plum jam), it offers a more memorable alternative to another Christmas sandwich on the run, as well as a little luxury downtime just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street. If you’re raising a toast to your purchases, opt for the free-flowing champagne in celebration.

10. Zara at Marble Arch is the only branch you’ll need

There’s no end of season sale quite like Zara’s and needless to say, the stores across the capital will be churning out not just AW17 pieces but some absolute gold from the archive as well. The trouble with Zara, though, is that whilst the pull to go into store to find said gold dust is strong (there’s a different selection in each store and it’s unlikely to appear online), trying to navigate your way around during such a busy time is mayhem. Our advice? Brave it but choose your destination wisely. Whilst Oxford Street features a Zara store on every corner, bypass your usual pit-stop and head straight for the Marble Arch branch right at the end of the road – it’s less widely known, more spacious and it spans three floors so it makes for a much more pleasant shopping experience.

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