It’s not quite the season for Christmas markets and shop-til-you-drop sales yet, but this only means fewer crowds and no more frantic, last-minute gift wrapping. Whether you prefer big departmental stores or quirky markets, chocolates or perfumes, here are seven cities around the world for a pre-Christmas shopping trip.
1. New York
Forget Black Friday – there’s much shopping to do in the Big Apple before the crowd swoops in. While many shoppers will comb the departmental stores such as Bloomingdales and Macy’s, for a real bargain, head to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets which has a solid collection of high street and designer brands. Back in Manhattan, Bryant Park’s Winter Village opens on October 27. Stock up on cute, handmade Christmas trinkets here while sipping hot cider and skating laps around the outdoor rink. Then head downtown to the Brooklyn Flea Winter Market, which starts on November 3, for some vintage clothes shopping.
Unbeknown to some, the malls in sunny Florida are perfect for a pre-Christmas shopping spree.
Orlando International Premium Outlets offer up to 50 percent off on top clothing brands year-round, while the Mall at Millenia is known for designer brands such as Chanel and Gucci. For quirkier finds, the East End Market has a wonderful selection of homeware gifts and grooming products made by local artisans. Ivanhoe Village by Lake Ivanhoe is also a picturesque setting to take your time to shop for antiques and vintage records.
Marrakech’s souks are great for finding one-of-a-kind pieces and if your haggling skills are up to par, you’ll end up with a good bargain. Check out Souk Semmarine for pashminas, fabrics and textiles, Souk el Attarine for teapots and lamps and Souk Smata for shoes, then swing by Rahba Kedima’s colourful spice stalls. There’s more to Morocco than souks, though, and literary friends will appreciate a good book from Librairie Chatr (Shatar Library). Another souk alternative is leather goods store Place Vendome, which has been in operation since the 1950s. It’s hard to go wrong with a classic leather wallet!
Regent Street’s famous Christmas lights won’t be switched on until November 16, but it’s already feeling a lot like Christmas in the Big Smoke. Stock up on Christmas items or splurge on clothes at Harrods and Selfridges. While at Selfridges, take a stroll down Oxford Street and admire the lights. The Spirit of Christmas Fair in West Kensington begins on October 29 and runs the gamut of gift choices from tea to children’s toys. Also worth a visit is the Crafty Fox Market which opens on November 3 at Elephant and Castle and features works by local designers and makers.
The French capital is a year-round shopper’s paradise but there’s something about perusing boutiques in the autumn that makes the endeavour ever more purposeful. Parade your Louis Vuitton and Banana Republic shopping bags down the Champs Élysées, or, for a more eclectic pre-Christmas shopping experience, visit the art galleries and antique shops in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and boutique clothing and jewellery stores in Montmartre. For a classic Parisian gift, Francis Kurkdjan and Serge Lutens have exquisite selections of perfumes. Or, pick up a book from the legendary English-language bohemian bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, once run by George Whitman and frequented by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
A city for sweet tooths, Vienna’s whimsical confectionary shops are sure to delight and satiate even the healthiest of taste buds. Pick out beautifully packaged nougats or chocolates from the ornately-decked Demel and a box of wafer cookies from the pretty, pink-lit Manner shop. While there are many historic coffee houses in the city centre, one of the best places to buy coffee beans is the modern-look Jonas Reindl, which sells beans from Italy to Costa Rica. And don’t forget to load your luggage with clothes made by local designers from the many boutiques that line Mariahilfer Strasse and Kärntner Strasse.
Fashionistas will make a beeline for the designer brands in Bangkok’s upscale malls, including Central World and Siam Paragon, but it’s also worth checking out multi-brand concept store Siwilai, in swanky Central Embassy, where Thai designers sell handmade clothes and crafts. If malls aren’t your scene, stroll the standalone shophouses in Ari, Bangkok’s hipster neighbourhood. Here, you’ll find cool steals such as Voidshop’s woven beach sandals and macramé bags. For the perfect coffee table gift, pick out an art or photography book from Kathmandu Photo Gallery in Little India, where owner Manit Sriwanichpoom also displays his own photos from travels around the world.