Outlet Shopping & Magazine Freebies

Last week, I went shopping one time too many and bought two more magazines than I should have. In other words, I went shopping once and bought two magazines. Nothing to write home about, but when you have no money it’s not the greatest idea!

It’s not often that I shop at outlets, but last week I found myself at Swindon Outlet Village. I’d been years ago and it was never anything special, but this visit I could have bought something from almost every shop in there. It’s got so much better, plus it’s gained a Pizza Express and a Wagamamas too, which can’t be a bad thing. Now I’m not doing an advert for this particular shopping centre, but I’m warming slightly more to outlet shopping. The only other outlet village near me is Bicester Village, which is pretty popular, even more so with foreign tourists who visit by the coachload. And this is where they’ve gone wrong at Bicester Village. They’ve tried too hard to cater for these tourists, meaning that popular British retailers have been replaced by entirely unaffordable designer brands like Prada (where you have to queue to even get into the store). Despite the outlet discounts, most shops are pretty much unaffordable for anyone not earning a fair amount of money, and this, along with the lack of popular and affordable places to eat there, has put people off. Of course, they will be immediately replaced by tourists, so there’s no problem. The complex is being extended, so it will be interesting if I go again to see what’s been added. But I was very impressed with the stores on offer at the Swindon outlet, and as a consequence I came away with a few little purchases which weren’t exactly in my budget. It was exactly what you want from an outlet shopping centre – upmarket, but still high street, stores, with discounts and offers making stock more affordable. I picked up the cutest little hand cream from Crabtree & Evelyn (which smells gorgeous!), a Smashbox mini collection with their amazing primer and foundation, and a small bottle of some Tommy Hilfiger perfume, all for about half the usual price.

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You might be thinking, why the hell has she been talking about how many magazines she’s bought this week?? Well I’ve noticed this month that a lot of the magazines I tend to read (Cosmo, Glamour, Red etc) have got really quite nice free gifts with them. I sometimes miss out on the Glamour freebies because I subscribe, and I don’t think they always send the free stuff to subscribers (or they just don’t give away many freebies. In which case, they need to improve this..!). So when I saw that there was free Orly nail polish with Cosmopolitan, I (sadly) got a bit excited. Unfortunately, when I was doing the shopping in Sainsburys, they had about 6 or 7 issues of Cosmo, but all with the same boring cream-coloured nail varnish. Bleurgh. Yet having already set my heart on a magazine (ha!), I was going to pick one, so I chose InStyle for the cute little L’Occitane shampoo and conditioner they were giving away. I know this is an awful way to pick magazines, but fortunately I have quite enjoyed InStyle, which I’d never even glanced at before. And then on a late evening trip to a Morrisons Local after a curry and a few drinks out on Friday night, I finally found the Cosmo with the gorgeous gold nail polish! I will highlight here that I haven’t gone round actively searching out this magazine, just that I happened to come across it. Honestly! Anyway, I actually wanted to make a bit of a point here, which is that if magazines like Cosmo and InStyle (less so with Glamour) are going to charge nearly £4 per issue, I think that they need to be giving away these freebies more often, even every month. It’s no secret that the print magazine industry is failing quite spectacularly, and these freebies clearly offer an extra incentive which is completely unavailable via online publications. I feel pretty guilty about buying just a magazine for £4 when I could get a whole book for the same price from Amazon (which I’m also less likely to read once and chuck away 5 years later when I’m cleaning out my room…), but when you get a free nail polish, or some make up, or even better, some jewellery, for your £4, plus a great magazine, it’s really a win-win situation for everybody.

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