Introduction to Shopping Scotland
The shelves of gift shops in every tourist attraction from John O' Groats to Jedburgh are stuffed full of dreadful tartan tat such as 'See-you-Jimmy' wigs and bonnets, Loch Ness monster replicas and those scary-looking tartan dolls with flickering eyelashes. All very harmless (except for the dolls which give you nightmares), but not doing much for Scotland's image. But amongst all this tourist kitsch are many excellent high-quality goods on offer.
Scottish textiles, especially the tartan variety, are popular and worth buying. Everything from a travelling rug to your own kilt outfit. Shops up and down the country, and especially in Edinburgh and Inverness, can tell which clan your family belongs to and make you a kilt in that particular tartan. For the full outfit, including kilt, sporran, jacket, shoes and skeann dhu dagger, expect to pay in the region of £600, or more if you want more elaborate accessories.
There are mill shops making tweeds and cloths in many parts of Scotland. Most are in the Borders, though it is not necessarily cheaper to buy at source. Harris Tweed is also a good buy and you can watch your cloth being woven on the Hebridean islands of Harris and Lewis.
Knitwear is also good value and sold throughout Scotland, though the cashmere industry in the Borders is suffering from high trade tariffs. Shetland is a good place to find high-quality wool products. Note that Aran jumpers are not from the island of Arran, but from Aran (with one 'r') in Ireland.
Jewellery is another popular souvenir and there are many excellent craft shops throughout the Highlands and Islands making beautiful jewellery with Celtic designs. Glassware is also popular, particularly Edinburgh crystal and Caithness glass, as well as pottery.
Food is another good souvenir and not just the ubiquitous shortbread sold in tartan tins. If you haven't far to travel home, smoked salmon, or any other smoked product, is good value. One of the best places for food products is the island of Arran, where you can buy their delicious local mustards and preserves, smoked fish and game, and cheeses.
And, of course, there's whisky. Most distilleries will refund the cost of their guided tour in the form of a discount voucher on a bottle of their brand whisky.
Before You Travel | Money | Getting to Scotland | Arriving in Scotland | Where To Stay | Getting Around | Keeping in Touch | Food & Drink in Scotland | Shopping in Scotland | Entertainment & Nightlife in Scotland | Holidays & Events | Special Interest Travel | Tours | Munros Climbing Guide
Shop opening hours in Scotland are generally Monday to Saturday from 0900-1730 or 1800. In larger towns and cities, many shops also open on Sundays and late at night, usually on a Thursday and Friday. Large supermarkets and retail complexes found outside large towns are open till 2000 or later Monday-Saturday and till 1600 on Sunday. In the Highlands and Islands, few shops are open on Sunday, most notably in the Outer Hebrides where nothing is open on a Sunday. Also note that in many rural areas there is an early-closing day when shops close at 1300. This varies from region to region, but the most common day is Wednesday.