York has been a trading town since the Romans founded the city, instantly boosting local sandal and toga industries. Today it is one of the best shopping cities in the country, boasting designer names and independent boutiques in equal measure.
Medieval shopping street Shambles’ chocolate box charm led to it being named Most Picturesque Street in the first Google Street View Awards. This narrow, cobbled thoroughfare gets its name from the “shammels”, benches used by the butchers who used to frequent the street.
The Shambles is one of the most individual shopping streets you’ll come across in the UK
Today there is still one butcher – The York Sausage Shop – along with several other independent food and drink shops. It is a great place to pick up gifts too, with glassware and jewellery on sale. Great indie businesses include stationer Paperesque and Little Shambles Jewellers.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, Shambles is your dream street. It hosts no fewer than three shops devoted to the boy wizard. The best of these is the original, The Shop That Must Not Be Named, opened by a local Potter fan in 2017. Even though it has since doubled in size, you may still have to queue to get in at peak times.
Pick up some Harry Potter-themed trinkets and gifts on the Shambles
Each York Ghost is hand-made and sold in The York Ghost Merchants
Two other magical shops you mustn’t miss are The Potions Cauldron, where you can buy bottles of Unicorn Essence and Tears Of A Wizard, before visiting its secret room. And The York Ghost Merchants sells – well, York ghosts – from a beautifully-recreated Georgian shop interior. Each hand-decorated ghost is a unique souvenir from this most haunted of cities.
And it will always snow on Shambles at Christmas. A crowdfunding campaign saw traders invest in snow machines which add extra festive magic to late-night shopping.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, Shambles is your dream street. It hosts no fewer than three shops devoted to the boy wizard
The High Street
Coney Street has been the hub of the York shopping experience since Viking times. Today you’ll find the likes of Boots, WHSmith, Waterstones, Paperchase and toy retailer The Entertainer here.
Coney Street seamlessly becomes Spurriergate at its southern end. This is home to Stormfront, official retailer of all things Apple, and a modern building housing Zara, H&M and Utopia. Around the corner in High Ousegate are more big names, including Lakeland and Urban Outfitters.
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York’s other principal shopping thoroughfare, Parliament Street, was created 150 years ago to provide a spacious and convenient space for Victorians to sell their wares.
These days it’s home to more famous names, like Marks & Spencer, the Disney Store and Thorntons, plus most flavours of high street bank.
Discover some top brands when shopping in York
Walk towards the Minster from Parliament Street and you enter Davygate. One end is dominated by Browns, the long-established family-run department store housed in a Grade 2-listed building where sophisticated shoppers while away a few hours.
You’ll find prestigious names like Chanel, Clinique and Estée Lauder in its beauty hall on the ground floor. Handbag heaven is here too, with Radley and Coach among the selections, and designer names also feature heavily in the men’s and women’s fashion departments. Davygate is also home to Cornwall women’s fashion retailer Seasalt and Space NK Apothecary, the luxury beauty boutique.
You’ll find prestigious names like Chanel, Clinique and Estée Lauder in its beauty hall on the ground floor
In The Coppergate Centre you’ll find Flying Tiger Copenhagen selling cool and unique products from home décor and children’s toys to gadgets. The family-friendly centre is home to department store Fenwick, selling fashion, fragrances, homeware and toys.
You’ll find department store Fenwick in The Coppergate Centre
In the light and airy ground floor you’ll find a busy beauty department which includes a nail bar and Clarins spa, a jewellery section which regularly updates its collections, handbags and fashions for men and women. The store is also known for its excellent homeware department.
When it comes to shopping, the city of York really is a treasure trove of different delights. You may need a bigger bag!
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