20 April 2005


Americans would be so disappointed at the UK shopping experience. There is shrivelled choice, crippling prices, shoddy merchandise and outrageous parking charges. Couple that with bad-mouthed shoppers, aggressive shop lifters and gum snapping sales assistants and it all makes for a day you don't want to repeat often.

The UK Mall is a shadow of its American cousin; all style and no substance. Water features and murals trying manfully to compensate for uninspiring goods. Before buying audio/video goods of any quality it is essential to have pre-arranged a second mortgage. PCs are beyond the reach of many, clothes are only for the very wealthy and lunchtime snacks are affordable only by the gentry.

I am of course referring to the shopping arenas that the big corporate players want you to patronise. Stray off the high street though, widen your search to the outskirts and you may just find a little gem of an arcade. A row of shoppes with bowed Victorian fronts and musty interiors, sole traders who know and value the returning customer. Who offer free courteous advice and after-sales service. These are a dying breed and they have no descendents.

My American friends, I know you do not all embrace the Mall or the Plaza but we British can shop like there is no tomorrow and believe me we know both bargains and quality when we see them. Do not take Factory Outlets for granted. Don't scamper straight through Dillard's. Laugh at Wal-Mart if you must but recognise that the "pile it high, sell it cheap" motto can be made to work.

Enjoy what is available to you but don't expect the same here. If you do bring dollars to the UK try town shops not out of town Shopping Centres. Calculate the number of dollars you think you may need then double it and bring more. We call this country 'Rip-Off Britain' and we know, we live here.

British travellers take extra suitcases to America. We are used to CDs at $25, Levis at $90, Nike trainers at $120, laptops starting at $1500. I rest my case...

"I'm gonna give you the slip
I'll walk down the mall, stand over by the wall."
Blondie - One Way or Another


Grace said...

Well said PV!

Perfect Virgo said...

It's the truth Grace, right.

doughgirl said...

Yet another thing for me to be greatful for :)

From now on email me what you need and I will ship it to you guys :)

Jen said...

Now I understand why my British friend spent so much on shopping when she over here visiting me. Hunh.

Perfect Virgo said...

Doughgirl - you could run a lucrative sideline if you chose your products carefully. Watch out I may just put a shopping list together!

Jen - a couple of years back we bought an additional suitcase while on holiday just to bring back the purchases! There are restrictions on what you can bring back to the UK but if you've pulled off the tags who is to say things are new?

V said...

Your quote for the Blodie lyrics are from the song "One Way or Another" not "Presence Dear"

I liked your post. Thank you!

Perfect Virgo said...

V - Just checked my lyrics file and FUCK ME I was wrong! Always willing to admit my mistake I stand corrected! Thanks for commenting. By the way did you mean Blondie, sorry to be pedantic!

Post duly amended.