Last month marked the two-year anniversary of my first ever visit to Bicester Outlet village where I bought one of my favourite bags, my Coach Leather Handbag – a black well-loved, every-day but not too casual bag. I recently went back and fell back in love with Bicester village, so I thought I would share my experience as well as a few tips.
If you’re from England, you have most likely heard of Bicester Outlet Village as it seems to be the most popular outlet in the country. It’s based just outside Bicester (not too far from Oxford & Milton Keynes) and really easy to get to from London: you can drive an hour and a half or so, or jump on the train at Marylebone Station for a 45 min journey to Bicester village station, which leaves you a few minutes stroll from the shops.
If you’re worried that the stock is all going to be sample products or products that didn’t quite make it into non-outlet stores, then don’t worry: everything that goes to Bicester must have been for sale in a regular non-outlet store from at least 30 days and now be discounted by at least 33%.
I also wondered if maybe some days are better to go than others but apparently, they get deliveries daily so it’s down to luck really.
I think now is probably a nice time to set expectations…
I like Bicester and I think it’s worth a visit every now and then but if you think you’re going to find that £4000 bag of your dreams for just £200 then you’re
probably wrong. Also, if you’re after the belt du jour (Gucci looking at you), that is sold out everywhere, then it’s unlikely you’re going to find one too (that said, I still looked). However, if you’re after a nice purse/bag but with no specific brand in mind; a great shirt for your boyfriend or even updating your jewellery collection then it’s definitely worth the trip.
My last trip to Bicester Village was with my fave blogger, Jess – from Cocoa Chelsea, and we made a day of it. Although the average time spent at Bicester is 4 hours, we were there for more like six hours as it’s a great place for a day out. We arrived by train from London and went straight to Farm House: a Soho House Restaurant with delicious food and which I would highly recommend. It was the perfect way to fuel us for a busy day of shopping.
Then started the shopping. I ended up picking up a Furla bag for £120 (above) which I love and have been using lots! I can’t remember the original price but I think around £400 so I got quite a bargain and Furla had some really fab bags! Other great bargains were to be had in Ralph Lauren: I picked up a few bits which my boyfriend and brother had asked for, for an absolute steal! I managed to get two polos for less than the price of one! I also bought a Coach Bangle (above) and was very tempted by the reasonably priced jewellery in lots of the stores.
I didn’t pick up a Long Champ as I didn’t really need one but I was very tempted – they were only £40 for a medium one and they had lots of colours, including black. They did sell out quite quickly: I popped back a few hours later and the black one had sold out but the other colours were still available.
I was also impressed with YSL and Prada’s stock, again they’re not cheap but they are far more affordable.
My top tips
1. Make a list of what you want before you go.
I was worried that I would either feel overwhelmed and buy nothing or get excited and buy everything, so I thought making a list would help and I really think it did. I wasn’t too specific but I wanted to look for a nice scarf, a Gucci Belt, a bag and some Jewellery.
2. Ask what they have in the stock room.
We tried this lots, admittedly a lot of the times we knew they wouldn’t have them but still ask and they were all very accommodating. In YSL we were after a black bag and although they had none on the shop floor, they were able to get us one from the stock room. It wasn’t quite right for me but it’s still definitely worth asking! In Gucci, we asked for the very popular GG belt’s and they had one in the back but again the colour wasn’t quite right.
3. Allow for a whole day of shopping. You probably won’t need it but you don’t want to have to rush off.
I’ll be honest: we did slightly run out of time but that’s just a good excuse to go back next time! There are lots of food and coffee places too – if you need a little down time mid-shopping – but it’s best to take your time and not rush too much, especially if you’re buying a pricier item.
4. Make sure you check the map and don’t miss of any stores. (some are a little more hidden)
The layout can be slightly confusing, with a few shops on the outer perimeter which are easy to miss if you come via train, so have a look on the map and don’t miss your favourite shops.
5. Check the weather.
Although it’s beautiful all year round, it isn’t an indoor shopping centre, so it’s better to go on a day with no rain. (although maybe with rain it’ll be less busy)
6. Enjoy it!
Don’t get too worried if you didn’t find exactly what you wanted: shopping is supposed to be fun. If you didn’t quite find what you want the first time then you’ll have a good excuse to go back the second time.
If you have any tips for shopping at an outlet or think there is another outlet I need to check out then please leave me a comment below! Also, check out the full list of stores here.
What bargains have you picked up in an outlet store?