The Sephora UK store has recently opened its doors, and many beauty enthusiasts were excited to have access to a Sephora store once again. As such, I decided to go and visit the store for myself to see what the experience was like and how it compares to other Sephora stores around the world.
As soon as I entered the store, I knew that I would end up being disappointed as the store was nothing like I imagined or rather hoped it would be like. However, I was unable to foresee the level of disappointment – that came later.
The store itself is of an average size, but finding products can be a bit challenging. There are very few brands represented as compared to the website and the layout is rather tight particularly given the number of customers that are inside the store at one time.
Most of the interesting products are located next to the checkout tills, which makes browsing difficult. Additionally, the two queuing areas have different products, so it’s not easy to browse both before paying. You have to settle for one of them.
The store offers both assisted and self-checkout options. I was queuing for the assisted tills but a security member of staff pushed me towards the self-checkout tills when it came to my turn to pay due to the long queue. At that point, I could not even find it within myself to complain as all I wanted was to leave already.
The self-checkout process was rather smooth. I was able to easily scan my products, well except one whose bar code was faded, but a member of security guarding the tills quickly brought me another bottle. I did not want another one after the first two did not go through… but just took it and paid. I thought it would be faster. Sadly, Sephora is not the only store where I felt a bit more pressured to buy something and leave and I am not the only customer who felt this way either. I know that traffic fell considerably in stores, but this is just insane. But then again it makes sense for Sephora to take advantage of the fact that they manage to attract the largest number of customers at least for now due to the novelty factor. I wonder whether it will stay this way…
Anyways, checkout was easy with that small exception. I was also able to easily scan my rewards card from my phone via the Sephora app and shopping bags were found underneath the tills. Cannot recall whether the bags were available in multiple sizes, but small ones were definitely available. Additionally, as far as I could tell, you could not get any gift wrapping at the self-checkout tills.
The store was overcrowded during my visit, making it hard to move around and find the products. The store was also very hot which made the experience even more uncomfortable. For reference, I was wearing a very thin coat and a (short-sleeved) t-shirt. I felt suffocated at some point. However, it was not the customers per se that made it so uncomfortable, but the shop assistants that would catch up with friends or talk among each other thus blocking the flow of the store.
Despite the hype surrounding the store’s opening, I cannot say that I was impressed in the slightest. I have visited many Sephoras that are much better than this one both in the US as well as in Europe. Heck, even in my tiny town Sephora is much better and much more comfortable and seriously more enjoyable as a place to shop at. The selection of products available did not impress me either. While it does resemble a Sephora more than the website does which still has many reminders of FeelUnique, the selection was still not up to par for such a “big/significant” Sephora store.
The worst bit?
Many items were not properly priced. I struggled to find the price for many of the items I looked at. Some did have the price on them and other did have some labels on the shelf but they were not in the right place. I know that this is just the beginning and the opening might have been hectic, but there is no excuse not to properly organise the products and particularly the pricing tags. One of the items I picked up was because I thought it was around 5 GBP less than it ended up being (of course it was the item that did not even scan…) – this one actually had a pricing tag but it ended up being wrong. Safer to shop online for sure. You can browse in peace and take advantage of the best offers.
Ah yes, the gifts with purchases as small and uninspiring as they may be are available only online as far as I can tell. Given that it is super easy to drop £100 in-store without purchasing much, you are definitely better off shopping online.
Overall, the Sephora UK store experience was not up to my expectations, and I do plan to stick to online shopping if I truly want something that I cannot find elsewhere – honestly, if I can get it elsewhere I will rather go to Cult Beauty, Boots or SpaceNK even rather than shop at Sephora in the UK. Please do read my review with a grain of salt as I know that the shop recently opened and that a proper system is not yet in place, but I did want to share my experience in case any of you were planning on making a long trip to see this newly opened Sephora store.
Will check out the store again in the future, but at least I will know not to have any expectations the next time around. It might just end up surprising me.
Have you visited the Sephora UK store? What did you think of the store?
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But to be frank I’m not a fan of stationary Sephora at all. I’ve never had any particularly enjoyable experience in Poland and here from the one at Champs Élysées I left upset and I won’t ever come back there. If I ever buy anything it’s online and only if there’s an offer worth attention, given how many beauty retailers are there
oh no, I am so sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. what happened?
The staff was unpleasant and condescending. I asked for a sample of a foundation and they refused even though there were testers available
I am really sorry for the bad experience. Sephora staff is definitely not properly trained when it comes to customer service. I also find their attitude off putting most of the time. I am quite surprised that in my local store they are quite nice but they also leave you alone so interaction is kept at a minimum
On the other hand have you ever gotten a sample from Sephora which here I assume you mean for them to create a small one based on the tester available in store not to give you an already packaged sample as those included in gifts with purchase/of just with your purchase at checkout? In my entire life I only gotten one of those and that was in Boots. Just curious 🧐