A Tale of Two Queues: St. Stephen’s Day Shopping

My memories of St. Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day as we called it growing up in the States) are of my Mom and my early morning starts to shop the sales. We always started at Lord & Taylor (often after a strategy session at Dunkin Donuts with friends). The big draw was their Christmas decorations and high-end clothing (Ralph Lauren, for one). As years went by, our companions changed until one day it was no longer a friend and her mother, but my mother-in-law then, after moving to Ireland, my husband.

Our first Christmas as expats, we celebrated in London with a Dickens-focused walk on Christmas Day followed by an amazing Italian dinner. The year after that, we spent in Cork City. Last year, Morocco. Almost every St. Stephen’s Day, however, included shopping unique to the city we were in and a reminder that sometimes we buy just to buy since when luggage space is limited, I bought less.

2007: Just before moving to Ireland, we celebrated Christmas with both our families in Washington, D.C. The day after Christmas ritual was enjoyed with my Mom and mother-in-law. We chose to focus our energy on the shops in the Friendship Heights neighborhood of D.C. and visited Lord & Taylor, of course, plus J.Crew, LOFT, and the other classic favorites of ours. My favorite items of the day were a pair of flannel-lined chinos from J.Crew and a camel-hued coat from LOFT. The coat is a regular favorite when it’s not raining and in that middle temperature. It says “dry clean only” but I washed it and the world didn’t end.

2008: In London, I met up with a friend from California, Katie, and along with a friend of hers we hit Kensington High Street while my beloved husband watched a match in a pub with a few good British beers. We later hit Regent or Oxford Street (I get them confused) for a little more shopping. It was mayhem, but a novelty and a convenient excuse to duck in from the below-freezing cold. Of all the things I bought, two items actually get used the most, a cardigan from Next and a turtleneck from H&M. Both are green.

2009: Our St. Stephen’s Day in Cork City was just as chilly, but with more familiar shopping options. We started at Next on Opera Lane then to Debenham’s and finally Brown Thomas. That year, Next opened at 7am and I found a couple useless pieces of clothing I “had to have” plus a fairly practical clutch purse. My favorite item of the day was definitely a dress my husband bought me at Brown Thomas. I actually wore it to this year’s Chef Factor party at The Grain Store at Ballymaloe (two weeks after giving birth to my wonderful son). Gotta love a dress that is designed to be forgiving without looking like it’s forgiving any flaws.

2010: Last year brought a very different shopping trip since Morocco isn’t know for their outlet malls or high street. Ah, but they are known for their souk markets! We spent the day exploring the souk in Marrakech. Amazing! We didn’t buy too many things, but did manage to come away with some saffron, Moroccan tea leaves, and tagine spices.

Now, having given you a rather personal (and probably dull to you) run-down of my last four St. Stephen’s Day, you can guess this year will be a departure from previous years since I have a new baby to share my schedule. That and I peeked at the queue at Next just as they opened and it was crazy! Here, you can compare the queue at opening in 2009 to this morning’s and see for yourself. Then I’d love to hear what your favorite places are for St. Stephen’s Day shopping or if you have a different ritual to mark the day.

7:00 a.m. on December 26, 2009
Eager Sale Shoppers

6:00 a.m. on December 26, 2011
Shoppers Ready at Next

For those of you looking for St. Stephen’s Day 2011 store opening hours for shops on Opera Lane, here’s what I know…

Next: 6am – FACT
River Island: 8am ?
Gap: 8am – FACT (all sale sweaters are €15)
TopShop: 10:45-11am
H&M: 9am ?
New Look: 8am ?


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