There’s nothing like a bit of retail therapy to get you out of the house in January and the chance to save serious cash on anything and everything is one of life’s great motivators.
The first thing you need for the January Sales is a strategy. It’s always great to stumble across a reduced price version of the perfect McGuffin that will look ideal on your dresser/feet/kitchen top/significant other. But it’s also good to get out there with a plan. So think about what you need and how you still haven’t found the perfect X because nothing can improve the perfect X more than a 50% off tag. List out what you want, what you need and what would be a fantastic stroke of luck. Finally, our rule of thumb is, if you have your heart set on something special then go early and if you just want to save, save, save then leave it later (but not too late).
The Big Players
These big stores can be found all over the network. Find the one closest to you, get on the train and enter your own personal megastore heaven.
There are John Lewis outlets across the network from London’s Oxford Street flagship all the way to the end of the line in Exeter some 250 miles away. They often deliver 50% off sales in their big clearance sale so it could be worth getting there as quickly as possible. You can find the store locator here but the ones on our network are: Basingstoke, Bristol (Cribbs Causeway), Exeter, Horsham, Hungerford, Kingston, London (Oxford Street), Portsmouth and Southsea and Southampton (WestQuay).
House of Fraser
House of Fraser is a staple on many high streets across the country and has lots of our favourite brands. And at this time of year prices can drop by as much as 70%. Find your nearest here but the list of towns and cities on the network with a HoF is: Bath (Jolly’s), Bournemouth, Bristol (Cabot Circus), Camberley, Exeter, Guildford, Plymouth, Reading (The Oracle) and Swindon (outlet store).
If you happened upon Debenhams during the gift buying season you might have noticed that they began with Christmas offers early in December. But they’re not letting up from Boxing Day through to January either. You can find your nearest store here and these are the destinations across the South Western Railway network: Basingstoke, Bath, Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter, Guildford, Matcham, Portsmouth, Reading, Salisbury, Southampton, Staines, Taunton, Walton-on-Thames, Weymouth, Winchester and Woking.
There are only two Harvey Nicks stores on the network, indeed in the whole of the south and they are the London Flagship and Bristol, separated by 120 miles and a direct train journey. This is the store where you can get your high-end fashion fix so expect big value savings here. Plus, as we are forever saying, this is a great place to take time out as their restaurants are the perfect place for a spot of light lunch, a great view and congratulatory sparkles.
We’ve chosen a select few destinations around the South Western Railway network where you’ll find smaller independent stores for a bespoke sales session. For more suggestions take a look at our destinations page – each one lists different local shopping options.
Bradford on Avon – Wedding Central
Strolling around this beautiful historic town on the river (as well as a canal) is one of the best ways to enjoy the winter sales. Just stay well wrapped up. Plus, there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and pubs for you to escape to and pour over your bounty.
Another, less well-known thing about Bradford on Avon is that it’s the wedding capital of the UK. The tiny town is bristling with all things bridal. So have a wander if there’s a nuptial negotiation on the cards.
Carina Baverstock Couture
Flossy and Willow
Perfect Day Bride
Bradford on Avon is 40 minutes from Salisbury and 35 minutes from Bristol.
Exeter – Independents Galore
When the Romans got to Exeter they hung up their sandals and said, “that’s far enough.” They travelled no farther west… and you can see why. There is plenty to keep you, like the Anglo Saxons, occupied. Exeter is the thriving commercial centre for both Devon and Cornwall. As such there is all the high street shopping you’ll need, and a lot of independents too. So head to Fore Street for bohemian chic and Gandy Street for a host of indies as well as big name brands like Bang and Olufsen and Jojo Maman Bebe.
Homeware and Accessories:
Exeter Central is an hour and ten minutes from Bristol Temple Meads.
Dorchester – Retail Haven
If you like a day trip with your shop then Dorchester (and the other places listed in this section) are a great way to combine a short train trip with a wonderful wander. Dorchester has been popular for quite a while, it was settled in prehistory, the Romans liked it, Daniel Defoe (of Robinson Crusoe fame) liked it, Thomas Hardy liked it… you’ll like it. We promise. With its mix of great shopping and stately architecture you can’t go wrong in Dorchester.
For those looking more for distractions than retail interactions then you’re also catered for and one of the nicest things you can do, as an introduction to the town is take the Durnovaria Town Walk that traces the old Roman boundary and takes about 40 minutes.
Jewellery and Homeware:
Stolen From Susie
Dorchester is 43 minutes from Bournemouth and an hour and ten minutes from Southampton. Wednesday is market day too, if you want to snaffle some local delicacies along with your bargains.
Guildford – Beautiful Backdrop
This gorgeous Saxon town is full of independents and a 33-minute hop on the train from London. With its cobbled high street and historic houses, this is an ideal backdrop for a big shop away from the big city. Guildford also has three shopping centres so you won’t miss the high street sales in between browsing the indie stores. And just in case you’re accompanied by anyone with less shopping stamina than you, there are hostelries galore as well as an art gallery and a museum.
Bardoe and Appel
Preston and Duckworth
Guildford is 55 minutes from Portsmouth and Southsea and 36 minutes from Basingstoke.