Bottom Line: Bicester faces stiff competition as London bares its retail teeth

Elizabeth Fournier
UNTIL recently, “designer outlet” was usually preceded by three very specific words – out of town. The UK’s biggest designer outlet, Bicester Village, is officially billed by owner Value Retail as being its London village. In fact, it’s a 63 mile drive – or hour-long train journey ­– from central London, nestled in a market town in the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside. Bargain-hungry tourists don’t seem to care, flocking to Bicester on luxury coach packages and helping it generate an average of £2,000 in sales per square foot (Waitrose, for example, makes £1,111). But all that could be about to change. London’s first designer outlet opened in Wembley last year, and if plans to use dead space in the O2 go ahead, Bicester could soon have a lot of competition on its hands. In 2011 London was crowned shopping capital of the world, with consumers spending more here than in LA, Milan, Rome, Madrid and Berlin combined, according to the Centre for Retail Research. Another must-visit retail destination would be the perfect feather in its cap.

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