Bicester Village – credit crunch shopping

publication date: Jan 12, 2009
author/source: Anne Coates

Bicester Village is a great place to shop with kids in tow with pedestrianised “streets” so no hazardous roads to cross plus a litter-free and peaceful atmosphere. On the day I visited the car parks were full, but the shops and were calm – just the kind of atmosphere for some serious shopping with or without children!

This UK Chic Outlet in Oxfordshire has recently increased the number of boutiques to over 120 including Dolce & Gabbana, All Saints, Alexander McQueen, Radley – one of my personal favourites along with Le Creuset – and for teenagers Jack Wills and Cath Kidston. For younger children’s wear there’s Ralph Lauren Boys and Girls and Petit Bateau. This is a great place to shop if you need a special outfit for the kids. At least when they grow out of it you won’t have spent a small fortune.

Whether you only have a couple of hours to spare, or aim to be there all day, Bicester Village offers an great retail experience of luxury shopping in fashion, accessories and homeware. The upmarket boutiques offer anything from 30 (the absolute minimum reduction) to 70 per cent off the usual high street price. Some retailers have extra discounts. I bought a very pretty skirt and top from Coast that had an extra 30 per cent off that day so a real bargain! And alongside Versace and Nicole Farhi you’ll find likes of Monsoon and Hobbs so there is something for everyone’s pocket and taste. So how is it possible to buy such fabulous clothes at half the price? The items are the previous season’s stock.

If your kids need to let off steam there are a couple of play areas plus there’s lots of seating and tables outdoors for when the weather permits al fresco eating. A huge Pret à Manger and Starbucks are there for snacks and quick meals while Villandry and Carluccio’s offer French and Italian cuisine respectively in an ambiance you’d expect from a good restaurant. (Carluccio’s has been reviewed in our Child-friendly restaurants section.)

Getting there:
By car: M40, junction 9 - new free multi-storey car park
By train: trains every 20 minutes from London Marylebone, hourly from Birmingham Moor Street. A taxibus runs from Bicester North station (£2) to the village but only seats eight so at busy times you may have to wait. Alternatively a taxi costs only £5 so may actually work out cheaper.

Bicester Village, one of nine Retail Value destinations in Europe, is open seven days a week:
Monday to Wednesday and Sunday: 10am to 6pm
Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 7pm.