I’m totally out of my element with this post, and no doubt it will be reflected in my review. However, as I usually just see Ashford Designer Outlet from afar, passing it on my way to London by train, I thought it was high time I take a closer look. So, here we go, outlet shopping with a self-confessed snob. Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…
First of all: it’s huge, which means a lot of walking (but the outlet is wheelchair-friendly, so accessible for disabled shoppers, too)… Second: if you’re not used to outlet shopping (that would be me), you may not get much out of it. And third: some shops are OK, some totally disappointing (Clarks and Marks and Spencer come to mind here).
What to look for?
You can find most of your usual high street brands here, but I found the selection a bit limited. In some cases, I also got a sense that the quality of the merchandise was not what I’ve come to expect from the brand (the Clarks outlet in particular was a huge disappointment in this respect). Also, you may find that your size is not available… Probably that is to be expected, though, when it comes to outlet shopping…
I would definitely go to the Barbour shop again, even though this time my size was not available. And there were quite a few shops selling luggage and sunglasses, and even chocolate.
And for lunch?
There are several restaurants. I would avoid the food court, though, unless you’re happy with the usual unhealthy fast food options. For those looking for a more nutritionally balanced lunch, there are a few coffee shops and a Wagamama scattered among the shops.
And what did I buy there?
Well, as I said, I’m not a seasoned outlet shopper, so I was a bit out of my depth as to what to look for. I did, however, have a ‘shopping list’ of things I wanted to find. And it worked about as well as it usually does when I go shopping with such a list, which is, not at all…
So, here’s what I bought: a t-shirt and a cardigan (yes, one of these was on my list…)
Ashford Designer Outlet is about 37 minutes’ train ride from London (trains from St. Pancras: take any train stopping at Ashford International Rail Station. There are also trains from e.g. Charing Cross, London Bridge and Victoria). The Designer Outlet is a 5-8 minute walk from Ashford International Rail Station, and the route is clearly marked with signs.
How do you feel about outlet shopping? Any tips?
I know what you mean. Designer outlets are hard to pass up, but I can't find much joy anymore in shopping at them. Way too overwhelming! Sounds like you stayed focus, though, and bought some good basics.
Oh yes, overwhelming is the word… I found it difficult to motivate myself to go through the entire area.
I'm not a fan of such outlets, they are usually too huge for my liking, and I feel lost/overwhelmed, but to be honest, that's the way I feel about pretty much every mall… I like quieter, more intimate shopping – or online shopping (returns are easy in many places). There is an outlet mall about 20 minutes from my home where I go for shoes – Nordstrom Rack – and for my daughter's shopping, as she likes Old Navy and a few other brands there. The cardigan you picked is such a pretty color!
I'm not a fan, either. I hardly ever shop in outlets, I find them chaotic and difficult to navigate. Ditto huge malls. But I hate snooty boutiques, too: over-eager shop assistants freak me out. I prefer department stores: a pleasant environment, cosy coffee shops, maybe a champagne bar…
You sound like me whenever I go these places, which is rare as we have none in close proximity. I do know that mostly the stock ends up there as it did not sell quickly enough in the usual stores, often because of colour, fit or quality. Never the less, you did well with your list.
Yes, that was my impression, too: what they sell in outlets is the leftovers, the stock that nobody wanted at full (or even sale) price…
Ashford doesn't sound too good, from what you say. I have only been to Bicester Shopping Village, which I actually found pretty good. I got a lovely handbag and watch from Furla at a very good discount, and also some nice stuff from Cath Kidston and Le Creuset which I bought as Christmas gifts. My daughter has also found nice things there at keen prices, including from Links. It's a much longer journey than Ashford, but probably worth it. The only shop there that I found really dull and not worth visiting? Clarks! I see a pattern forming…Jane
Well, I wasn't impressed, I have to say. But I also know that I'm not exactly a seasoned outlet shopper, so I may not be able to make the most of the experience, either. But Bicester certainly sounds good, especially the Furla handbag…
I haven't been to this shopping outlet yet, but will now look into going. I have often found great bargains outlet shopping, having to budget it works for meLaurie x
I'm sure you will find great bargains there, especially if you are a seasoned outlet shopper.