Shopping is GREAT - Part 1

London has some of the world’s most famous department stores: Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and many others. Our presenter Richard visits them and also samples a smaller shop for a range of shopping experiences.


London is the shopping capital of the world. Every year millions of overseas visitors shop here. But what makes shopping here so great? There’s only one way to find out. I’m off to do some shopping – follow me!

At Harrods

Knightsbridge is famous for upmarket shopping. This is where the rich and famous come to buy… their socks. And this is the one and only Harrods… the ultimate in luxury. Even royalty shop here. If I’m lucky, I might see someone famous.

If only they had it in my size. Lovely! Thank you!

Done quite well there – what’s next? Taxi! Harvey Nichols, please.

At Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols – or ‘Harvey Nicks’ for short – is a great place for designer fashion.

Well, I had to buy couple of things… What?

At Hamleys

The biggest toy shop in the world – now you’re talking!

So cute… err… it’s not for me.

Oxford Street

London’s Oxford Street is retail heaven. It’s got over 2 kilometres of shops to choose from… and, of course, Selfridges for shopping with style. Taxi!

Could you drop all this off home for me, please? I’m off to explore a different sort of shopping in Britain.

If you like shopping all under one roof, then there are big shopping centres all over Britain. The Olympic-sized shopping centre at Westfield, Stratford, is huge. With over 300 shops, it’s one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. 

At Lock's

Great shopping isn’t just about big shops. Smaller shops can offer something special too. Tucked away in the heart of Piccadilly is a great shopping gem. Lock’s sell that must-have in gentlemen’s fashion: the hat! Lock’s opened in London in 1679. Their hats can be seen across the world. They pride themselves on their personal service.

Richard: Sue Simpson is a hat specialist. Hi Sue.

Sue: Oh, hi Richard.

Richard: Wow, a bowler hat, you don’t see many of those these days, do you?

Sue: Well, we don’t call it a ‘bowler’ here at Lock’s, we call it a ‘coke hat’ because it was invented in 1850 for Thomas Coke…

Richard: …by this very shop.

Sue: …by this very shop and we still call it a ‘coke’ to this day.

Richard: Ah, the classic top hat. When would I wear that?

Sue: That’s a beautiful silk top hat. You would wear that for a society wedding, or the time you see most of them is at Ascot, which is the famous race meeting in June.

Richard: So what’s your best-seller here at Lock’s?

Sue: Our best-seller would be a classic tweed cap or this trilby here, which is called a ‘Voyager’, and the novelty of this one…

Richard: …is it folds up so you can pop it into your luggage.

Sue: …pop it into your luggage.

Richard: Excellent. Is that a deerstalker?

Sue: Similar to a deerstalker, but this is a country cap with a fastening that goes over the top. And this was invented originally for wearing in open-top cars, but now it’s more commonly worn on the hills out shooting and this keeps the ears warm and stops it blowing away.

Richard: I like it; I’ll take this one.

Task 1

In what order did Richard look at the following products?


Task 2

What's special about each shop or area?


Task 3

Match the beginnings and ends of these phrases.


Task 4

Richard said "If only they had it in my size". Type the correct form of the verb in the gap. Make it negative if necessary. 

We have a page on LearnEnglish about the use of 'if only'.




Average: 3.4 (11 votes)

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Wed, 28/10/2020 - 15:10

Ooo, big differences of shops, price, quality in my country and in UK. In Bulgaria I can`t go to buy clothes, bags, shoes like Michael Kors, Versace, Calvin Klein.... because first the price they are bigger than my salary :D maybe I will need loan about one new shoes of Michael Kors, quality most items write produce in Chine and it`s not material which I touch here in UK... Here in UK, I open my eyes about expensive clothes and accessories...

Submitted by Ejik on Thu, 19/03/2020 - 17:30

In London, service in stores is much better than in Ukraine. The goods there are better than ours.

Submitted by Evgeny N on Tue, 07/05/2019 - 21:04

Dear teachers! Good evening! Could you tell me please why wine shops in Great Britain are called Off license? Thank you in advance!
Hello Evgeny N An 'off-licence' shop is one that is authorised to sell alcoholic drinks but is not authorised as a place for people to drink them. In other words, you can buy the alcohol there, but you must take it elsewhere (often people go home) to drink it. You can see more about the alcohol licensing laws in the UK in this Wikipedia article: All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Youngdan on Fri, 12/10/2018 - 10:09

Hello, I have two questions from Shopping is GREAT - Part 1. At Hamleys, Richard says "now you are talking" after mentioning how big it is. What does it mean in this context? Describing Lock’s, Richard says "Lock's sell that must-have in gentlemen’s fashion: the hat!". The verb sell needs subject and object but I cannot find either in this sentence. Especially I am confused with the use of that. It seems to me this whole sentence just does not make sense. Can you analyze its structure? Thank you.
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sat, 13/10/2018 - 06:31

In reply to by Youngdan


Hello Youngdan,

People generally say 'now you're talking' to show they are excited about something, in this case, going into the shop. It means something like 'this is going to be great' here.

Sure, in that sentence 'Lock's' is the subject (it is the name of the shop) and 'sell' is the verb. It is plural because it is a group of people who work in the shop; in British English, it is common to use a plural verb to refer to a group of people (e.g. the sales team in a shop, a football team, the government, etc.). The object is 'must-have', which is a product that is so popular that people feel they must have it. In this case, 'that' is a determiner modifying 'must-have' and is used to refer to something that is already known about. Actually, Richard hasn't spoken about hats before this point, but by using 'that', he's showing that there is a common attitude that men must have a hat if they are fashionable. That's not actually true, but he is playing the role of someone who is fashionable, and so he speaks this way.

You're right, this is actually a very complex sentence to understand! I hope this helps.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by NickHalden07ABC on Sun, 07/10/2018 - 23:02

As far as I'm concerned in London is an Olympic-sized shopping centre but here in Mexico City has a variety of stores depending on what you are going to buy. Because we have entire streets or avenue of a different kind of goods or stuff in different moments of the year or even all year long. Also, here in Mexico City every certain day of the week you can go to an specific place to get some goods near the place where you live, so it's like shops are coming to us. In London as in many parts of the world you can expect to see shops where even royalty shop there, an here in Mexico city isn't the difference. We can see on the avenues with markets of specific good, and also they are pride themselves on their quality and personal service .

Submitted by Marcos Martins on Tue, 10/07/2018 - 19:52

Well, I don't usually go shopping, because I prefer shopping online. But I know that here in my city there are some nice stores. Like in Britain, we have both large and small stores. We have big shopping centers and department stores too. The main problem with shopping here in Brazil is pricing. Thanks to the taxes, things here are too expensive.
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Submitted by Gabrierus on Thu, 07/06/2018 - 23:40

wow!! there is a massive varaity of shopping centers, I wish I had all those astonishing mega malls in my country. I am sure it would be an unforgettable experience!!

Submitted by A-S on Fri, 01/06/2018 - 17:52

Hello The LearnEnglish Team, I wonder if you could tell me the correct answer for the following question from the My Online Resources: If only my parents ______ (nag) me to do my homework all the time. I think the correct answer should be 'had nagged', but the system marked it incorrect. Then, I put 'nagged', wrong again. After that, I've tried 'didn't nag', 'would nag', 'hadn't nag', and 'nag', but nothing worked. Since there is no correct answer provided, I'm really puzzled. Could there be an error in the system's answer? And what is the correct answer? Looking forwards to hearing from you soon.