Ukrainian migrant support hub

A gateway for Ukrainian migrants and those who support them to access information, events and services.
Шлюз для доступу до інформації, подій та послуг для українських мігрантів та тих, хто їх підтримує.

A guide to shopping in the UK

Most shops in the UK are usually open between 9-5 on Monday to Saturday. Some shops open on Sundays, but often with reduced hours. Many people do all their shopping online as this can be more convenient and the cost of delivery is usually low.

Food and essential items

Large supermarkets are usually the cheapest place to buy food and other essential household items such as cleaning products and toiletries. Aldi and Lidl usually have the lowest prices. Other supermarkets such as Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury’s usually cost a little more, but have a wider range of foods. The most expensive supermarkets are Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Ocado. There are other discount shops that offer cheap deals usually on dried or tinned foods, which include Home Bargains and B&M. You can look on the Google Maps website for one of these supermarkets and find one which is near to you.

Almost everything will have a price marked on the shelf below, or on a sticker on the item, except for fruit and vegetables which will sometimes be sold by weight. You do not need to weigh these yourselves – this is done at the checkout. Many supermarkets are now self-service which means you will scan your own items and pay without needing staff – but there will always be staff nearby who can help you.

Some areas also have a street market with stands for fresh fruit, meat, clothes and other household items. You will find these are usually either selling luxury items, or cheap items at similar costs as supermarkets.

What should I do if I can’t afford food?

There are many charities that can provide you with food in a crisis.

Where to get help
Search for support options
What if I struggle to carry shopping or live a long way from a supermarket?

Many of the major supermarkets also allow you to shop online and book a delivery to your home. This will usually cost a few pounds to deliver, and can be a good option if you can’t easily get to a shop.


The cheapest place to buy clothes are charity shops, which sell second hand clothes. There are many chains of these, including British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research and Oxfam.

For new clothes, the cheapest options are chains such as Primark, TK Maxx as well as most large supermarkets which will have a clothes section. Many people also shop online for clothes.

What should I do if I can't afford clothes?

There may be local charities that can help you with free clothes.

Where to get help
Search for support options
What should I do if I can’t afford school uniform?

You should contact the school. They may be able to help getting second hand items, or provide other support.

You could also try looking for second-hand school uniform via websites like 'nextdoor' or Facebook Marketplace.

Furniture, appliances and household items

You can often get free items from websites such as Freecycle, where people offer items they no longer want, to anyone who will collect them.

You can also buy second hand items from people using websites such as:

  • Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, where people post adverts for items they are selling
  • eBay, which is an online auction site.

Charity shops on the high street sell second hand furniture and household items such as cooking items. These are usually the cheapest option.

For new items, shops such as Wilko sell a broad range of items.

Where to get help
Search for support options
Mobile phones & SIM cards
Getting a phone

You can look for second hand phones on websites such as Facebook Marketplace and eBay.

You can buy new phones from high street shops or online. There are many companies that will offer you a monthly contract which will give you both a new phone and inclusive calls, data and SMS costs. Whilst this can be appealing, it is usually the most expensive solution compared to buying your own phone and SIM card.

Getting a SIM card

You can get either a ‘pay as you go’ SIM where you will have to buy credit for your phone and then only pay for the calls, SMS and data you use. Alternatively, you can get a contract where you will pay a monthly amount and use your phone as much as you like within their monthly limits.

Websites such as USwitch can help you find the best deal. 

Are there free SIM cards?

There are several charities providing free SIM cards to refugees. For most of these, you will need to apply by asking a local refugee support charity.

Can I change SIM card and keep the same phone number?

You can keep your current phone number when you change your SIM card. To do this, contact your current provider and ask for a PAC code. When you have this, contact your new provider and give them your PAC code. They will tell you what time and date your old phone number will be switched over.

Where can I buy a SIM card?

You can buy SIM cards online, in convenience stores or supermarkets, or from mobile phone shops.

Changing your phone’s country settings

Some apps will only be available if your phone is set to the UK. The way you do this depends on whether you have an Android phone or an iPhone (iOS).

Your rights when shopping
Your rights if you’ve bought something faulty

If you have been sold something that has a fault, or stops working sooner than is reasonable, you should take the item back to where you brought it (or contact the company online). They must either offer a repair, replacement or refund to you. This would not apply if you damaged the item yourself.

How long do I have to make a complaint?

There is no fixed period defined in law – it will depend on the item. For example, you should not expect a television to stop working after 6 months of normal use, so if this happens, you will have reasonable grounds to return this. However, if you purchased a bag that developed a hole after 6 months, while that isn’t good, it will be more difficult to argue that this was their fault, and they may refuse.

What can I do if I'm not satisfied with how the shop deal with this?

Citizens Advice describe the steps you can take if the shop won't resolve things to your satisfaction.

Your rights to return an item you no longer want

If you have bought an item online or over the phone, you have a right to a full refund within 14 days from the point you received the item or service. You don’t need to give a reason. There are some exceptions where you don’t have this right, such as buying tickets or digital downloads.

If you bought the item in person, or it is outside the 14 day period, it is up to the seller to decide if they will accept your return. Online shops will usually publish their policy on returns.

What can I do if I'm not satisfied with how the shop deal with this?

Citizens Advice describe the steps you can take if the shop won't resolve things to your satisfaction.

Can I haggle to get a better price?

If you are buying second hand items from another person, such as through an online market place like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, you can try offering a lower price. Whilst most people advertise with a fair price, they may be willing to sell for less.

Within shops, it’s not normal to ask for a discount on a low-cost item, and doing this would probably confuse the staff. But the more expensive the item is, the more normal it will be to ask if they can offer a discount. For example if you ask a shop if they will accept £8 for a £10 frying pan, they will be confused. But if buying a new washing machine for £150, the shop may be willing to offer a small discount, or a free warranty if you ask.