Christmas Shopping in London (Virtually)

London is a great city to visit and shop anytime of the year, but especially at the holidays. The energy and hustle & bustle of London easily gets you in a festive mood. Throngs of Christmas shoppers, all bundled up and rushing about under tinseled street decorations, is like a modern-day Dickens story. The brisk temperatures outdoors make the warmth of specialty and department stores even that much more inviting.

Join us as we take you on a virtual shopping trip of some of our favorite retail destinations in London. 

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Oxford Street is a must for anyone even thinking about shopping in London. Most of the major British department stores have a flagship on the street. So to start this tour, jump on the Underground and get off at the Bond Street station. Once up on street level (the corner of Oxford Street/Bond Street), you have the option of turning left to go to Selfridges or right for several major department stores. We'll head right and first department store up is Debenhams (#1 on the map)…

Debenhams

If you're not familiar with Debenhams, you can read more about the long Debenhams history here. In comparison to American retail stores, Debenhams is similar to a Kohls or JC Penney. No time to stop in today, so we continue along Oxford Street for another block. Here is where we see the next major British department store (and #2 on the map), House of Fraser

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House of Fraser was recently sold to a Chinese investment group which owns one of the largest department store chains in China (read about it here). We'll stop in quickly…

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The store has targeted different clientele since its founding in 1849. Currently, that target is the more affluent customers. House of Fraser is servicing them with such brands as Shiseido and Tom Ford in beauty (above) and Paul Smith Jeans, Ted Baker, G-Star, Diesel, Armani Jeans and Superdry in mens sportswear(below).

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Time to move on, so we head back out to Oxford Street but don't need to walk too far (about 50 feet) to see our next British department store (and #3 on the map). It is John Lewis

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John Lewis is one of the largest 'better' department store chains in the U.K.It would compare to Macys in the United States, if you are not familiar with the name. One of the unqiue things about John Lewis is that it is owned by its employees (John Lewis Partnership). If you want to know more about the rich John Lewis' history (it turned 150 years old in 2014), you can read about it here.

One of the biggest differences we see between John Lewis and Macys is that John Lewis still offers some categories of merchandise which Macys hasn't for many years, such as computers, books and major appliances. They also offer a much broader assortment when it comes to furniture and fitness equipment.

Next up (and #4 on the map) is BHS, or as it was known early on, British Home Stores

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It sells commercially-priced merchandise which is, for the most part, private label. British Home Stores offers many product categories, but its strongest are probably furniture and home decor and weddings and bridal. 

We're now at the corner of Oxford and Regent Streets, also known as Oxford Circus. There is an Underground station below us, but we're not ready to leave just yet. We'll cross to the south side of Oxford Street and then follow the very narrow Argyll Street. Along the way we pass stores like Forever 21, Moss Bros.,

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Geox, Niketown, Jaegar, Jigsaw and Swarovski.

On our left is the famous London Palladium theatre (Nicole Schweringer is currently in previews for a new production of Cats), while in front of us is the famous Liberty London department store, easily identifiable by its Bavarian-styled facade. Of the five department stores we have now passed, Liberty London is the most exclusive, offering high-end brands like Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Rag & Bone, Stella McCartney, Alice & Olivia and Kenzo. Liberty London is famous for, among other things, their floral prints.

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Although it's barely 3:00pm, we know we don't have much daylight left and there's still one more important store we want to visit on this shopping tour, but it's on the other side of Hyde Park. So we jump on the Underground at Picadilly Circus and take it a few stops to Knightsbridge. Up on street level, we view some of the festively decorated windows of Harrods. This is the jewel-in-the-crown, so to speak.

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From the Food Hall, to the Egyptian Room to the new Shoe Heaven on the fifth floor, Harrods is an amazing store…part designer paradise, part visual masterpiece, part fashion amusement park! 


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