This is about high-street general shopping (and no boutique/single brand shop like Zara, Clarks, Pull & Bear, or Jack Wills; these stores only apply if you look for a really particular thing) as availability of stuff only excels there.
Now, prices first, from cheapest to most expensive:
Primark –> TK Maxx –> Sports Direct –> H&M –> Debenham’s –> Marks & Spencer
As can normally be imagined, the style and cuts follow the prices. I wouldn’t myself necessarily say that quality (of the materials, not the millimetre-perfect seams and the swaaag dem klo’s show) also follows the said price ladder. I have tried the cheap stuff itself, and I must say they age well, considering the, well, price.
You can buy clothing to wear at home (dressing gown, pyjamas, shorts, training pants, or other thing you’d wear when sleeping) in Primark (and TK Maxx, or H&M if you want to). You’d occasionally even find buckles or shoes that fits your liking there.
Now TK Maxx is a bit of an odd beast. It strides between the outrageous pricing Primark has, with the quality and brand a (or maybe one and a half) level higher. While you can always find good wearables, a lot of clothes, and also shoes here (the range of types/models for the latter are just decent), with luck you can find fine, brand bags (coming with different types and colours and all), perfumes, and even agendas and notebooks with slashed prices (I saw an Aston Martin sleeved agenda with a chillin price there). It also throws some other stuff like electronic plugs, DIY tools, etc. into the mix for a decent price.
Why do I put SportsDirect above TK Maxx in the tier list? Isn’t it obvious that it’s the other way around? Well, as cheap as you can find stuff in SportsDirect, it is also obvious that you can get more style and more quality buying from TK Maxx and sometimes H&M for similar price. (I am not saying that stuff in SportsDirect are bad. I saw good hats and great shoes there.) So I just put it between them for convenience. You can always find decent sweaters, sport shoes and exercise clothes and duffel bags here, from a vast choice to select. Sometimes you can find a rather collectible one too, like driver-autographed Mini rally team cap. For the sporty or casual, just come here first.
Next up, H&M. I would say that this place offers everything in average. Depending on your way of thinking then, you would rather come here, or avoid this place altogether. I would say that there is no harm in looking around. At least for a frugal, educated man-customer like me. I see this place rather cater to the young or casual in mind, compared to the last two names in the above list.
Now, the last two. Places that make a decent dapper dude smile. For the cuts that make you look Mad Men sharp, you will never go wrong getting into either of their doors. I personally find clothing in Debenham’s suits my taste (similar to my experience in our Home country), though most of the time does not suit my purse. It has a wide range in shirts, ties, and sweaters to offer. It is also where you can find great bags, business, messenger, and tote, alongside Marks & Spencer if you’re more into a mature, classic, conservative, tight, etc. all that style. Debenham’s is where you will find brand cosmetics and grooming too, for all Guerlain or Paul Sebastian chaps out there (kidding, I didn’t exactly list the names available there). Well, as we already mentioned M&S, you will always find the best scarfs and shoes here. No contest. You can find fine jackets too here.
Argos hands down. Next.
(Consider just shopping online with it. If you come to the store in the city centre, you will just find catalogues book and digital to order from and you will hand your order to the men behind the desk anyway. No thrillingly choosing, manual touching, optically 3D-looking, olfactorily intimate smelling and the occasional labial kissing the just-found-and-opened new gadget we males so love to do.)
You can find Superdrugs, but they don’t always have what you are looking for. Better go to Boots, and for cheaper options, you can go to Savers. For those Matt Bomers out there, go to Debenham’s already.
FOOD (and DAILY DISPOSABLES)
Ah. The base need of us human being. While Tesco is everywhere and always look the most practical, there are also (even more) practical or cheaper options out there. In the end, this boils down to what we usually like to eat or use. No particular convenience store has the all-encompassing cheapest offer. I find my dental kits to be cheaper from Iceland, eggs from Farm Foods, but packaged spices from Tesco, not to mention it is convenient to have all the choices there (mmm, cinnamon, a resting man’s best friend). It is useful enough to consider that you can find several or all the items you need in one place, instead of forcing yourself to have each for the cheapest price by going to A for X and B for Y, followed by going to C for Z, etc. The energy and time needed sometimes doesn’t justify the £2 you save by doing that. What one needs is different from the others, and what one does to do to get them is also different from the others. Anyway, there’s a reason they’re called convenience stores, guys.
Other workaround is buying foodstuff in the afternoon/evening, when the stores feel the need to dispose of the stuff that degrades relatively quickly, and they put them on good discounts. Even Marks & Spencer Food gives their breads and pastries this way.
Other choices, Asda, Lidl, Aldi. More competitive prices, online ordering, home delivery, what more can you ask?
Now, can someone show where to find great choices of coats and kilts…