If you’re after some serious retail therapy, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a list of the most shopping spree-worthy places in England, and they’re just waiting for you to visit!
But what kind of shopper are you? Do you want the world’s biggest high street, or do you prefer indie retailers? Do you want a massive shopping center, or would you rather wander along quaint and quirky streets? Are you after antiques, jewelry, brand names, books, bargains, or vintage? Are you on a budget, or is the sky the limit?
Luckily, we’ve got all those options and more covered on this list. So read on to find out where you should head the next time you want to give your wallet a workout in England.
Fun For The Whole Family – Metrocentre, Gateshead
If you think bigger is better, then look no further than the Metrocentre in Northeast England. Located just outside of Newcastle, this mega shopping center was built in the 1980s and became the biggest shopping and leisure complex in Europe!
It holds 250 retailers, including all your favorite high street brands, plus a few independents and several high-end boutiques. And it’s about to get a whole lot more high-end with the announcement that luxury London brand, Harrods, will be opening a beauty store, complete with a champagne bar in the Metrocentre in 2022!
But you don’t have to wait until then to sip some bubbles; the Metrocenter already has more than one licensed bar, in fact, it has more than 60 places to eat and drink. And plenty of places to play. With a 17 screen cinema, crazy golf course, rock climbing center, bowling alley, arcade games, soft play center, and even dodgem cars, this place is not just a chance to shop, but a day out for the whole family.
The Ultimate High Street – Oxford Street, London
If shopping is a competitive sport for you, then Oxford Street is your Olympics. The biggest high street in the world, Oxford Street, London, stretches for 1.5 miles and is home to around 300 shops specializing in clothing, beauty, toys, technology, and British-owned brands. Millions of people swarm here every year, drawn by the classical architecture, the bustle and vibrancy, the magical Christmas decorations, and of course, the chance to shop till they drop.
Enjoy shopping at the flagship locations of your favorite stores. And experience the added services and extended lines that many high street staples like New Look, Primark, H&M, and Zara showcase exclusively in their Oxford Street locations. Plus, you can visit such historic British institutions as Liberty, Hamleys, and Selfridges.
If you want to avoid the crowds…well, then you’re in the wrong place. But as a general rule, try to shop early on a weekday and avoid weekends and holidays!
A Bohemian Day Out – The Lanes, Brighton
Brighton is one of the best places in England for off-beat shopping, you’ll find independent retailers and quirky stores all over the city. But the hub of it all has to be The Lanes. This historic district made up of twisting alleys and narrow streets, is a vibrant place filled with color, art, and music. And it’s a shoppers paradise!
You never know what you might find when shopping in The Lanes because around each corner is another Aladdin’s cave of wonders. You’ll come across vintage emporiums, retro stores, antique dealers, bespoke jewelers, and designer’s studios. You’ll find an upcycling shop next to a contemporary art gallery around the corner from an erotic boutique.
The best way to explore The Lanes is to abandon any plan. Instead, wander at will and dive in and out of any shop that takes your fancy. Enjoy the background music of the many buskers that frequent the area. And don’t worry, there are plenty of independent coffee houses and artisanal bakeries to help you refuel as you browse.
The Charity Shop City – Nottingham
Charity shops are growing in popularity as consumers start to make more sustainable and slow-fashion choices. If you’re one of those people, or if you’re thrifty, enjoy sifting through the racks for an overlooked gem, or just don’t like to follow current fashion trends, well, we’ve got some news for you!
According to a recent poll, the new charity shop capital of the country is Nottingham, with a whopping 100 charity shops within 5 miles of the city center. But it’s not just about how many shops there are. The poll also considered such things as the quality ratings, reviews, and ethos of the stores. And Nottingham’s got some good ones.
You’ll find charity shops here that search through the clutter for you, displaying only the best retro and vintage finds. And places where items are saved from landfills, being cleaned, fixed, or upcycled and sold on instead of being thrown away. And, it’s the home of White Rose Recycled Fashion, a chain of charity shops with a difference, created by two Nottingham Trent university graduates.
All The Luxury Goods – Bond Street, London
If shopping for you is more about high-end than pre-loved, why not head to one of the most luxurious shopping streets in the world. In London’s exclusive Mayfair district, Bond Street has been a playground of the rich and famous for centuries. Wealthy shoppers have been coming here for their fine art, antiques, luxury furnishings, tailored fashion, and bespoke jewelry since the 1700s. And things have not changed; Bond street is still one of the best places in England for high-end, high-quality, extravagant shopping.
Shop such iconic brands as Chanel, Tiffany & Co., Dior, Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, and … well, the list goes on. Plus, you can call into world-famous Sotheby’s and watch an art auction in action.
But if you can’t afford it to shop here, (and really who can?) Bond Street is still worth a visit. It’s a beautiful street so why not spend an hour admiring the architecture, drooling over the window displays, and watching how the wealthy spend their money? And keep your eyes open because celebrities are regularly spotted shopping here!
Big Brand Bargains – Bicester Village, Oxfordshire
If you want the luxury brands but your bank balance won’t allow it, how about shopping for them at up to 60% off? Head to Bicester Village for one of the best places in England for designer shopping on a budget.
Located just outside Oxford and only an hour from London, this shopping destination attracts millions of people a year. They come to grab a bargain at one of the 200 boutique stores, including such giants as Mulberry, Valentino, Versace, or Burberry. But, if half-price Prada is still out of your range, you’ll find more attainable brands, too, such as Clarks, Calvin Klien, Lacoste, Levi, and North Face.
And, despite the crowds, it’s a nice place to shop, with a vibe different from most outlet malls. Bicester Village’s stores are arranged outside along paved pathways, and the individual wooden buildings give the impression of some quaint New England town rather than a faceless shopping center. And the luxury vibe doesn’t just stretch to the brands. You’ll find services such as personal shopping and valet parking being offered by ornately uniformed staff. And the cafes and restaurants are at the upmarket end of the scale with Prosecco stands, Pret a Manger, and Itsu in residence.
Antiques and Ambiance – Portobello Road, London
The famous Portobello Road is home to the longest street market in London and is the place to shop for all things antique, unique, and collectible. Around 1500 stalls make up this market, and if you visit on a Saturday, you’ll find them all doing a roaring trade. If you’re not looking to shop, it’s a good idea to visit during the week when the street is quieter with fewer stalls. You’ll have more chance to soak up the ambiance of the area, view the colorful buildings, and watch for eccentric characters.
But if you are here to shop, start at the Notting Hill end for the fancier stalls and the antique arcades. Don’t be afraid to haggle for a lower price; most vendors expect it. But be respectful and don’t be surprised if they’re much better at it than you are!
As you head north along Portobello Road, the more expensive wares change to lower-end trinkets and bric-a-brac, and the stalls become more diverse. You’ll find vintage clothing, second-hand books and records, and original artwork. There’s also a great food section with fruit and veg stalls, fresh baked goods, juice carts, artisanal products, and all manner of delicious street food.
Indie Vibes – Northern Quarter, Manchester
The Northern Quarter is one of Manchester’s coolest neighborhoods. Renowned for its food and drinks scene, it’s packed with trendy bars and hipster cafes. But it’s also the best shopping district in the city for one-off indie places, and it has some of the best vintage shops in England.
Any serious indie shopper should head straight to Afflecks, a Manchester institution with over 50 independent retailers across four floors. Plus pop-up stalls, a barber, tattoo studio, massage parlor, and some fantastic food and drink options. Then head over to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre where you’ll find some of the city’s best creative talent at work.
Stroll the streets to explore the independent book and record stores selling works you won’t find on the high street. Find collectible comic books and board games, erotic emporiums, and second-hand shops selling all manner of retro paraphernalia. And make sure you stop for plenty of coffee breaks; in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, they take their cafe culture seriously!
All That Glitters – Jewellry Quarter, Birmingham
Located in the north west of the city, the Jewellry Quarter is one of the oldest districts of Birmingham. Jewelers have been living and working out of this area for centuries, and it currently houses the highest numbers of jewelers of any region in Europe. Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is responsible for making 40% of all UK-made jewelry and is full of quality shops and experts traders. It’s without a doubt, one of the best places in England for jewelry shopping.
With hundreds of shops and studios run by highly trained artists and craftspeople, you can be sure of finding exactly what you want. Whether that’s your dream engagement ring, a contemporary statement piece, an antique with a story behind it or something pretty at a bargain price. And, if you can’t find what you want, why not speak to one of the bespoke jewelers and have it made especially for you.
In between hunting for the perfect gemstone, take some time to enjoy the district filled with historic buildings and unique monuments. Not to mention a thriving food and drink scene offering everything from quick coffee stops to refined dining options.