Being on holiday: Shopping abroad

Shopping is without a doubt one of the activities that take most of our time when traveling abroad. The possibilities are endless: souvenirs, clothing items and accessories, groceries, books and magazines, collectibles, films and music… Even if shopping abroad is a relatively easy task in which we do not need to display all our English-speaking skills, it is important to be ready for interaction.

Shopkeepers or assistants are usually very polite and attentive. In most places, they may approach us with questions such as:

  • May I help you? Do you need any help?
  • May I be of any assistance?
  • Are you looking for anything in particular?

When we are asked this kind of questions, we have two possible answers:

  • If we are not interested in anything in particular and we just want to spend some time taking a look at the items on display, we can say: “No, thanks I’m just browsing”
  • If we are actually looking for a particular item, then we reply: “Yes, please, I’m looking for a ________” or “Yes, please, I’m interested in __________”

It is possible that we are not approached by anyone but we need some assistance anyway. If this is the case, we can use expressions like:

  • Excuse me, can you help me? I’m looking for a __________
  • Excuse me, could you send someone to assist me?
  • Hello, I need some help/assistance, I’m interested in ___________
  • Good morning, I’m trying to find ____________

General questions we may ask at shops while looking for a particular item can be:

  • How much is it, please?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Is this on sale? Does it come with a discount?
  • Where can I find ___________?
  • Could you tell me where ________ is/are?
  • Do you sell _______? Do you have any ______?
  • Do you have anything cheaper/less pricey?

Once we have found the item we would like to buy, it’s time to make the payment:

  • Do you accept credit/debit cards?
  • Can I pay by cheque?
  • I’ll pay in cash/by card/by cheque
  • Could I have a receipt please?
  • Could you wrap it up for me please?
  • I would like a bag, please.

In certain places like supermarkets you may hear the following question: “would you like any cashback?” Even if it sounds surprising, it is a service offered by many businesses by which you can withdraw cash when you make a debit card purchase (cash, needless to say, charged to your debit card together with your purchase).

We hope you find this useful and soon have the opportunity to test your English speaking skills in different shops.

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