Today I arrived at 5pm in front of a local supermarket to buy my dinner and… it was closed, I had forgotten that today is Sunday.
As always, my trusted local Off Licence shop saved me.
What are Off Licences?
Let’s start from the fact that Off Licence is not their official name, they are called Off Licence because they are shops with an off license alcol-licence (so alcol can not be consumed inside the premises), they are also called “corner shop” or “candy shop“.
They are loved by of many Londoners because they are practically always open.
In 99% of cases they are run by Indians and Pakistanis who have lived here for a lifetime, and they (for obvious reasons) do not celebrate Christmas, so your Off licence will be a blessing on December 25th if you forgot something for your Christmas Dinner! 🙂
What do they sell?
Everything 😊 Obviously they don’t have a thousand options for everything, but you will find the essential. Bread, sweets, snacks, canned food, fruit, vegetables, sauces, pasta, rice. Wines, spirits, drinks, water, juices, etc – Also, household items and bathroom stuff. And frozen food too.
It also depends on the size of the Off Licence, some are tiny and don’t have many things, others are very very large, and they work just like a big fruit & veg store with a wide choice of fruits and vegetables.
Some are open 24 hours, others from very early in the morning,
Off Licences are also very often supplied with imported food, from Italy and eastern european countries. So at your Off Licence it is very common to find a corner dedicated to italian food, italian brands, the original ones, it’s all imported and prices are not too high! In London there is a large community of people from Eastern Europe, and for this reason several corner shops import packaged food from easten europe as well.
These stores accept credit cards and cash, but you may sometimes find a minimum required for card payment, for example if you spend more than £3. This is the minimum spending required by the Off Licence next to my house. I have 4 of Off Licence near me, but I have my favorite one😉
You can find them even in the most central areas of London, but those in the most central and touristy areas are a bit more in line with what is required there: so they have different (often reduced) opening times and also less choice of products, especially if you need stuff for dinner because you live in London. It doesn’t mean you won’t find bread if you need it, it just means they tend to be slightly more touristy, and this applies to prices too!
As soon as you move to more residential, less touristy areas,you will find the “original Corn Shop”. 90% of Off licences shops are independently owned and run, while some belong to chains like Londis, and few know that Londis stands for London Indian Shop 😊
😊 More info about London on my YouTube channel where I publish videos on London and where you will soon find info-videos.
So if you come to London on holiday, the dodgy looking Off Licence shop can actually be pretty handy, and if you live here in London… even more. You will learn what it sells and understand that it must be absolutely added to your list of food-shopping stores!