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London loot that New York can't match?
September 10, 2011 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Things that are actually cheaper in the UK (than the USA)?

I see there are a bunch of questions about things which are cheaper in the US. I'm turning that tried-and-true question on its head!

There are a couple of things I really like that are cheaper to buy in the UK than the US (Mason Pearson hairbrushes; La Roche Posay sunblock - normal old sold-at-the-chemist sunblock in the UK, expensive-as-hell-through-ebay sunblock in the US).

I'm heading to the UK for a brief work-related trip and I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions of other nice things to add to my list for the brief time I'll devote to shopping.

Qualifications are: 1) Must be cheaper in the UK than the US; 2) Is worth the money no matter what.

I'm considering adding Wolford tights to this list, since everybody on Mefi who wears them seems to love them, and it figures that they'd be cheaper in London than here. Any other suggestions?
posted by artemisia to Shopping (35 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't mean to be contrary, but La Roche Posay skincare is sold in the US at CVS drugstores, among other run of the mill 'chemist' type shops.

It's my understanding that if you like good tea, it's cheaper in the UK. Or, rather, cheap tea in the UK is better quality than cheap tea in the US.
posted by telegraph at 12:02 PM on September 10, 2011


Marmite
posted by dfriedman at 12:06 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Because of the exchange rate, most of the things I stock up on in the UK work out to be about the same price for much better quality (eg TM Lewin fitted dress shirts vs Banana Republic), rather than outright cheaper, so I'm finding this question a little bit tricky. There really needs to be at least about a 30% difference in cost of living adjusted price (if that makes sense) for someone working with $ to come out ahead, and that's assuming you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

That said: Your bra size may vary, but omg if you are over a C cup and especially if you don't want hemispherical bowl boobs, look for good quality, pretty underwear at Marks & Spencer, or just about any department store in the UK. The cost comparison can be a little tricky because the selection is wider, there might be sales etc, but I think you can save money and get much better stuff.

And get the tights at Marks & Spencer, especially the opaque ones are excellent. As far as I'm concerned Wolford is what you buy in the US when you don't have access to M&S.

Aside from that, yes, UK specialty foods like Marmite and Jaffa Cakes, and anything like a UK version of a magazine that winds up being sold for $12 on US news stands.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:11 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes!! Answers! The shopping demon within me is stretching and stirring from its long slumber.

I don't mean to be contrary, but La Roche Posay skincare is sold in the US at CVS drugstores, among other run of the mill 'chemist' type shops.

You're right, Telegraph, part of their line is sold at CVS! Yay! But not the exact sunblock that I love best. Boo. For some reason I've only been able to find that on Ebay, or in Boots etc. in London.

Marmite, damn straight. I used to love that stuff.

Crabintheocean, any particular recs re: Marks & Spencers tights? Or will any and all of them blow my mind?
posted by artemisia at 12:15 PM on September 10, 2011


The high street shops have more mid-priced women's clothing than I've ever found in the U.S. (Think Gap prices for Forever 21-looking clothes but at Gap quality.) And there are just MORE of those kind of stores.
posted by k8t at 12:18 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're just really solid and have a good variety, same with the socks and similar things. Last time I was there though, I got some super opaque hold-ups that I've been especially impressed with. It's the high-denier stuff that's tough and matte and far beyond anything at a similar price in the US I think.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:20 PM on September 10, 2011


Before you go stocking up on Marmite, you might want to check the British food aisle at your local supermarket -- I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago!
posted by jabes at 12:21 PM on September 10, 2011


I agree with K8t that mid-range stuff is both better quality and much more fashion-forward than any US equivalent, especially as BR and GAP continue their slide in absolute crappiness. Also, whereas fashion driven mall clothing like F21 in the US is made for teenagers in tiny sizes only, this is not nearly as true in the UK.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:24 PM on September 10, 2011


I've been told that fresh produce costs slightly more in the US.

Eg. an iceberg lettuce here costs about 80p (Tesco price), at ShopRite it costs $1.69, which is nearer £1 at the moment. Not a big difference, but not insignificant.

Does healthcare count?
posted by dumdidumdum at 12:31 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh, sorry, totally somehow managed to totally miss you wanted clothing/cosmetics etc recommendations. Smartarse fail.
posted by dumdidumdum at 12:34 PM on September 10, 2011


I'm in the UK, and since discovering Wolford tights a few months ago i feel like I am never going to buy another brand again. They're pricey, but superb quality and look amazing. The standard colours/thicknesses are great but they also do lots of sexy and unusual styles. Much better than M&S in my opinion!
posted by prune at 12:41 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Prune, where do you go to buy them?

Dumdidumdum, if I could bring NHS back in my suitcase, believe me, I would. ;)
posted by artemisia at 12:54 PM on September 10, 2011


Branston Pickle.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Heinz baked beans. Essential for life.

40p in Tesco, $2.00 at World Market.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:17 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fortnum and Mason no longer has a store in the US, so anything you ever want from them is expensively imported. If you happen to love blood orange marmalade, for example, you could stock up while in London.

if you don't love it you can always bring some back for me to hungrily devour
posted by elizardbits at 2:04 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


elizardbits: secret quonsar is only a few months away......
posted by seawallrunner at 2:23 PM on September 10, 2011


Le Creuset: USA vs UK
posted by Lanark at 2:31 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Le Creuset: USA vs UK

Whoa. WHAT?!? That's amazing, Lanark.

I think I just decided I'll check a bag, after all!

if you don't love it you can always bring some back for me to hungrily devour

Ha! I think marmalade is utterly repulsive, but if I get to F&M, I'll totally buy a jar and send it to you, just for the hell of it.
posted by artemisia at 2:38 PM on September 10, 2011


nthing everyone about mid-range fashion. Target carries a decent chunk of the Boots makeup range (and other UK cosmetic brands) but you'll have more choice in London. Aldi's European-made Lacura line is also much broader in the UK, now that the multi-intensive serum and a few other products have been discontinued in the US.
posted by holgate at 3:22 PM on September 10, 2011


Bicester Village has everything fashion wise at world beating prices. Allegedly it's now the most popular UK destination for Chinese tourists.
posted by roofus at 3:38 PM on September 10, 2011


Picking up on Lanark's Le Creuset note - TK Maxx has had a lot of Le Creuset stoneware in their shops recently and it's *cheap*. This teapot, for example, was a tenner. The usual caveats apply about availability, colour, etc and you need to make sure you go to a shop with a homeware department. The selection at the Hammersmith store has been especially good in the past.

House of Fraser has a fantastic ebay shop where their clearance stock is sold. Great quality clothing at absolutely fantastic prices.
posted by lumiere at 5:08 PM on September 10, 2011


I second the suggestion of having a wander round M&S and seeing what you find.

Yorkshire tea, particularly the loose tea, is much cheaper.

Low-end fountain pens. E.g. the cheaper Lamys. There's actually a selection of fountain pens (albeit a small one) in somewhere like WH Smith. Cartridges should be cheaper, too. (My brother found a very good deal on a Lamy pen (a Logo, I think), but it was online.) If you're a pen person, they're similarly priced in the Eurozone, but the exchange is more favourable if you're likely to travel there in the near future.

My mother once bought a suit to wear to work in Tesco. I don't know that it was cheaper than what she finds in the US at Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx, but she thought it was a good value.

My family went through a phase of liking some Nivea deodorant that wasn't available in the US. (Do they even make deodorant in the US?)

Mostly I buy stuff I can't get in the US, which usually means a tour of newsagents for soccer magazines and of bookshops.
posted by hoyland at 5:46 PM on September 10, 2011


Yes, Slough-made Heinz beans are the best. North America just does them wrong.

Cafe Noir biscuits. You will love these.
posted by scruss at 6:51 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Barbour jackets seem to command a pretty big premium in the US over what they go for in the UK.
posted by letourneau at 8:19 PM on September 10, 2011


Good quality down comforters can be had for much cheaper in the UK. I almost choked when I saw the price of them in the US.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:35 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Digestive biscuits. Much cheaper. Also, I generally find wine (obviously of similar quality) to be noticeably cheaper in the UK.
posted by Decani at 3:05 AM on September 11, 2011


Nthing quality down comforters, they're really expensive in the US but much cheaper in the UK.

Laura Ashely has great sales and I like their clothing quality. I never went to a Laura Ashely in the US (do they have them in the US?) so I'm not sure about price.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:24 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


but omg if you are over a C cup and especially if you don't want hemispherical bowl boobs, look for good quality, pretty underwear at Marks & Spencer, or just about any department store in the UK.

Not a big M+S fan for bras, but Bravissimo do a lot if you are a DD or above.

Uniqlo does nice sweaters - I think there are fewer of these in the US. Also, apparently US folk go nuts over some of the drugstore makeup in Superdrug - Gosh and Barry M. I'd also recommend wandering round some department stores - John Lewis or Selfridges (the latter is higher end though)

I found in the States that books seemed very expensive, but this may have changed since.
posted by mippy at 6:37 AM on September 11, 2011


Jammie Dodgers!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 7:31 AM on September 11, 2011


Where abouts are you going to be? We could offer more targeted suggestions...
posted by mippy at 9:14 AM on September 11, 2011


Do NOT waste your time at Bicester Village. It's an outlet mall just like any outlet mall in the US.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:18 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll be in London and Oxford, mippy.

Thanks for all the answers, y'all... am making a list, checking it twice. :)
posted by artemisia at 1:05 PM on September 11, 2011


I found in the States that books seemed very expensive

Sales tax generally applies to book purchases in the US, while they're VAT-exempt in the UK. However, what's more significant is that the US still works on a "hardback first" approach, and while hardbacks are aggressively discounted in the US, British publishers have been more inclined towards first-run trade paperbacks, with an eye on the commuter market.
posted by holgate at 2:30 PM on September 11, 2011


It seems like a funny question as pretty much everything you can buy in the UK isn't actually made in the UK anyway, unless you're paying mega premium. I can't think of anything really that I'd buy in the UK over the States, but then I frequently spend £££ buying American Apparel from their stores over here. Most shopping areas are pretty generic in London, Carnaby Street for example which was once a staple of British fashion is now just a generic strip of boutique chain stores you can find all over London.
posted by stackhaus23 at 2:48 PM on September 11, 2011


artemisa - London is very big! If you can say which area or corner of the city you're in we can tell you what's close by.
posted by mippy at 9:04 AM on September 12, 2011


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