Bicester Village is one of my favourite places to go shopping. It's a large designer outlet centre just outside Oxford that plays host to the likes of Prada, Mulberry, Burberry, Reiss, Karen Millen and everything in between.
It's not exactly a cheap day out but if you're on the hunt for some designers bargains (or have a bit of a luxury handbag addiction like me) it's a great place to visit. This weekend I paid a visit to Bicester Village with a friend and thought I'd share some of my top tips to help you make the most out of a day there.
1. Avoid the weekends - if at all possible, go on a week day. Weekends are horrendously busy, parking is a nightmare and you'll have to fight the crowds just to browse. I normally try to take a day off work and go on a Monday, when it's much quieter. If you do need to visit at the weekend, try to go as early as possible so you don't spend half the day trying to find a parking space.
2. Try not to go there with too fixed an idea in mind - as a lot of the stock is from previous seasons and changes all the time you can never be quite sure what you'll find. So if you arrive looking for a black Mulberry Alexa for example, you're unlikely to find it (although you never know!). Instead, I aim to go with a more general list of things - this time it was a black leather jacket and a black or brown bag that was big enough to use daily for work - and then saw what options I had available to me.
3. Some stock is outlet only - some of the shops sell items which are 'outlet only', which may have been made specially for the outlet stores and aren't available in their normal shops. Staff should be able to help advise which items these are if you're concerned about it and point you in the direction of the items which are original items from older seasons instead.
4. Returns can be a pain - many of the stores do offer refunds/exchanges (some only offer store credit) but these can usually only be done at one of their outlet stores, not their regular ones, so do think carefully when making a purchase. If you don't live nearby, getting a refund on something can be a bit of a pain, especially if you live several hours drive away.
5. Check your items well for faults - a small number of the items at Bicester may be seconds (and should be marked as such) so it's worth spending a little time checking over your item just to make sure everything looks perfect. Returns can be a pain (see above) so make sure you're happy with it before handing over your credit card.
6. Discounts galore - many of the shops offer discounts ranging between 30% and 50% as standard although this does vary between stores and even the items within them. Sometimes you'll also find specific shops have extra discount days - this time around, Kate Spade had an extra 20% off the marked price of all their handbags, giving an even bigger discount on top of the usual one.
I hope you find this helpful - let me know if you get any good bargains if you decide to visit!