Please note: We have mainly written about England, as that is the country within the UK where our students live. We would be very happy for schools and visitors to send us information we can add to our website on Wales and Scotland.
Not only are we, in the words of Napoleon, 'a nation of shopkeepers',
we are also a country of compulsive shoppers. We love to shop! It
is our number one leisure activity and accounts for around 37% of
all money spent in England.
The main shopping street in many towns is called the High Street, where you should head for if you want to go shopping. A few small shops are owned by local people. Most are owned by national 'chains' of stores. This makes many town centres look the same. Some towns also have street markets where fresh food and cheap goods can be bought. Away from the town centre, small 'corner' shops provide groceries to local customers.
Peak shopping days are Saturdays and Sundays.
Shops are generally open on Bank Holidays (see below). Bank Holidays are a great time to shop as there are many sales on especially around Easter and Christmas.
In England, most retail shops are generally open 6 or 7 days a week.
Mondays - Saturdays 9am to 5:30pm
Some shopping centres stay open until 8 pm or later.
Sunday - 10am to 4pm (or 11am to 5pm)
Sunday shopping has become popular in recent years and most large shops in towns are open for business. Shops are only allowed to trade for 6 hours on Sundays.
Large supermarkets are open for 24 hours except for Sundays.
Many supermarkets and superstores otherwise open from 8am until 10pm from Mondays to Saturdays and 10am to 4pm (or 11am to 5pm) on Sundays.
On public holidays some shops open and some shops do not. As a general rule banks will be closed, most supermarkets and large stores will be open (although with reduced Sunday opening hours), and in larger towns many shops will open.
Bank Holiday Shop opening times 10am to 4pm (or 11am to 5pm)
Over the Christmas and New Year period, all shops are closed on Christmas Day (December 25) and a some shops are closed on New Year's Day (January 1). However, an increasing number of shops are now opening on Boxing Day (December 26), which is when many start their 'New Year' sales.
It is likely that most shopping centres will be closed on Easter Sunday and there will be reduced shopping hours on Easter Monday (often from either 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning).
Some rural shops still follow the tradition of an early closing day (usually a Wednesday) when the shops close at 1.00pm.
The major high street banks in England and Wales are Lloyds, Barclays, Midland and National Westminster (Nat West). In Scotland they are the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank.
Generally Monday-Friday 9:30 am-3:30 pm. Some branches stay open until 5:30 pm, and a few are open Saturday morning.
Most banks will have an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) outside the bank where you can draw out money with a credit or cash card. Many of these are available to use 24 hours a day, but some do still close for a few hours during the night.
Bluewater Shopping Centre
Bluewater is the largest out of town shopping development in Europe, located in a disused chalk pit at Dartford in Kent. With more than 300 shops and parking for 13,000 cars, it attracts around 30 million visitors each year.
Open: Monday to Friday: 10am – 9pm
Saturday: 9am – 8pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm
Types of Shops in England
- Marks & Spencer (for clothes and food)
- Debenhams and John Lewis and British Home Stores (for clothes and household items),
- Boots (for toiletries)
- WHSmith (newsagents, stationers, Cds and DVDs).
- John Lewis
- Allders Department Store
- House of Fraser
- Liberty's department store
- Harrod's - the famous department store that every tourist wants to visit. You can find anything from the cheapest to the most expensive things.
Supermarkets tend to be open 7 days a week with longer opening hours - usually until 8pm or 10pm most evenings, with reduced hours of 10am-4pm on a Sunday.
Some in larger town stores now open 24 hours
Main Supermarkers are:
Photos of Shops
Shopping in London
How much do things cost in England?