While it’s perfectly natural to go on holiday to backpack, see the sights or sit on a beach for two weeks, it seems like a bit of a mad idea to go on holiday purely to go shopping. What’s the point? What can you get in other countries that you can’t get where you live? Or that you can’t order off the internet? Some people just can’t get their heads around it.
In fact, going on holiday to shop has been a thing since time immemorial. Members of the European aristocracies (the only people who, unless they were in the army, could afford to travel) would visit cities like London, Paris and Moscow to latch onto the fashions of the time, subsequently influencing clothes manufacturers in their homelands. While we can easily order things from foreign websites on the internet, most people prefer to actually buy them in person so they can inspect them (and, in the case of clothing, try it on) and know that they’re making the right purchasing decision so they don’t risk the potential hassle of sending it back.
In addition, depending on exchange rates, it’s often cheaper to buy things abroad than at home. For instance, prior to the economic crisis in 2008, the exchange rate of American dollars to British pounds was more or less 2 to 1, meaning that visitors from Great Britain could fly across the Atlantic and essentially shop for half-price goods. While things aren’t quite as good as that at the moment, it’s possible to find great deals on a long weekend abroad. There will also be plenty of time to enjoy yourself and relax after the shops have closed for the day!
With that in mind, the only decision you need to make is your destination. European and American shopping holidays are both popular because of the worldwide prestige of their brands and the reputation they have as retail hotspots. A holiday comparison is the only way to sort the debate out – for a streamlined analysis, we’ll limit our shopping comparisons to fashion rather than making things complicated and comparing other retail areas.
European shopping holiday
Many of the male and female fashion styles worn all over the world originated in Europe, so for clothing it’s more or less unrivalled. The most stylish city on the continent, nay, in the world, is Paris – even when you dress to impress, the locals can still make you feel like you’ve stepped out in a grubby tracksuit. This is the city, then, to step up your sartorial game. Melinda Gloss, the boutique that offers jackets and shirts in the highest-quality materials, is rightly lauded as one of forerunners of the current menswear revival, while L’Eclaireur is the place to go for high-end accessories like handbags and stylish female clothing.
Like Paris, Italy in general shouldn’t need much of an introduction when it comes to fashion, but it would be remiss of us to talk about shopping in Europe without mentioning Milan. For designer labels (if you can afford them), head to Via della Spiga and the Golden Quad – Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada megastores can be found here. More affordable options are situated along the Via Torino and in the Piazza San Babila.
Antwerp might be a bit of a left-field option, but for those who like to find their styles off the beaten track, it’s the city that just keeps giving. In centuries gone by it was one of the richest cities in the north of Europe thanks to its trade in cloth, and things haven’t really changed since. Coccodrillo is a great place for male and female shoes alike, Salon Van Hongo is the boutique of choice for the sophisticated woman and Vrijdagmarkt 6 is the equivalent for men. There are tons of cool little shops dotted around the city, so exploration is the name of the game.
American shopping holiday
What can you say about shopping in New York that hasn’t already been said? Though the US isn’t that well-known for its own brands, the likes of Brooks Brothers, Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew (all perfect for savvy shoppers wanting to soak up that preppy Ivy League look) and Tiffany’s (because a girl can never be wearing enough diamonds) all operate flagship stores either on or in the region of Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s most famous shopping streets. Department store fans are well catered-for with Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s too.
On the opposite coast, shopping in LA is an eclectic experience. High-end boutiques jostle for position on Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard with trendy pop-ups and tourist-aimed souvenir stores – whether you want to channel a superstar-at-the-Oscars vibe or some of that classic California hippy style, you can find everything you ever dreamed of in the City of Angels with a bit more certainty than the wannabe starlets who continue to flood LA in their droves, chasing their dreams. While clothes are prominent, the city’s longstanding relationship with the film industry means that there are also potential memorabilia bargains to be had in stores dotted around Hollywood.
Minnesota doesn’t have too much going for it in terms of attractions or things to see, but the Mall of America comes pretty close, attracting over 40 million visitors every year, the most of any mall in the world. With over 500 stores, an indoor theme park (Nickelodeon Universe), a SEA LIFE Aquarium and a variety of restaurants and foot courts spread over 2,500,000 square feet of space, anyone who find themselves in Bloomington can’t pass up the opportunity to spend a day getting lost here.