By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
If it’s popular brands you’re after, Newcastle and Gateshead both cater to all your shopping needs. Newcastle city centre is the place to be if you want to enjoy historic architecture as you browse. Or you could take a trip to an out-of-town mall, where you can shop your heart out before hitting the food court or the multiplex cinema.
This region’s passion for shopping goes back through the mists of time; and some of Newcastle’s most thriving streets – the Bigg, Cloth and Groat Markets – still bear the names of items once traded there.
The city really came into its own as a shopping hub in the 1800s when it gave the world its first proper department store. Bainbridge in Newcastle (now John Lewis) started life in 1838 when Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge formed a business partnership with William Alder Dunn and opened a drapers and fashion shop on Market Street in the heart of what is now the city’s historic Grainger Town.
By 1849, Bainbridge boasted 23 different retail divisions, with weekly takings being recorded by section. In 1870 those 23 departments had swelled to more than 40, and by 1900 the business employed 600 staff.
Bainbridge was sold to John Lewis in 1952 and moved to its present site in Eldon Square shopping centre in 1976, finally changing its name in 2002. It’s still one of the leading department stores in the UK and is a bedrock of Eldon Square shopping complex.
High street shopping
Eldon Square is also home to the original Fenwick department store, first opened in 1882 as a temple to luxury in what was a former doctor’s house on Northumberland Street in Newcastle. As the store grew in popularity, founder John Fenwick expanded his business further along the street.
Still independently owned, today the flagship Fenwick store stands on the same site in Northumberland Street as it did almost 140 years ago, but now with an entrance into Eldon Square. Set over five floors, Fenwick sells everything from fashion and toys to beauty and furniture, alongside a world-class food hall, cafés and restaurants.
Enter this temple to consumerism and you’ll find designer names including DKNY, Mulberry, Longchamp, Paul Smith, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, Kurt Geiger and Victoria Beckham, alongside beauty brands such as Jo Malone London, Tom Ford, Dior, Charlotte Tilbury, NARS and Diptyque – many exclusive to Fenwick in the North East.
The unveiling of the Fenwick Christmas window in early November has become a major festive landmark. It takes a different theme every year and includes moving characters and a bespoke soundtrack. For many it marks the start of the festive season, with queues snaking the length of the street.
Fenwick sells everything from fashion and toys to beauty and furniture, alongside a world-class food hall, cafés and restaurants
Alongside John Lewis and Fenwick, Eldon Square is home to a plethora of other prime shops, including big brand names AllSaints, Monki, Levi’s, Hollister, Skechers, Kurt Geiger, Office, Lakeland, Kiko Milano, and Superdry.
To combine luxury brands with striking architecture, visit the Central Arcade. After browsing the likes of Space NK Apothecary and specialist independent music shop JG Windows, you can gaze up at the arcade’s light and airy glass-barrelled roof and tilework which, thankfully, have survived any attempts at modernisation.
If you’d rather wander around in the fresh air, Northumberland Street is still Newcastle’s main outdoor shopping thoroughfare, home Primark, WHSmith, Marks & Spencer and the Flannels concept clothing store, among others.
If you’re up for some serious shopping, get down to one of the area’s mega malls. Start your buying bonanza at Monument Mall, which stands where Northumberland and Blackett Streets meet. Topped by an impressive glass dome the mall is home to discount fashion and homeware chain TK Maxx as well as Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, FatFace, Kiehl’s, The White Company, Jack Wills, Reiss and ROX.
Not big enough for you? Metrocentre, over in Gateshead, is one of Europe’s largest covered shopping centres with more than 300 retail outlets, restaurants, a 12-screen Odeon IMAX cinema and an entertainment hub complete with arcade games, 10-pin bowling and children’s soft play.
All the high street names can be found here, from AllSaints, Hugo Boss, Tessuti and Zara to Lipsy and Levi’s and Victoria’s Secret.
Metrocentre sits within a wider retail park where you’ll find the likes of Ikea, Next Home and independent furniture retailer Barker and Stonehouse, a retail success story that has spread its wings nationally beyond its North East birthplace.
Fifteen minutes away, in Gateshead city centre, Trinity Square is home to a mixture of shops and food outlets and even a VUE cinema where you can catch all the latest movies.
Further afield there are the Dalton Park and Royal Quays outlet shopping centres in County Durham and North Shields respectively.
Dalton Park is the biggest outlet and discount centre in the North East with more than 60 shops selling over 200 brands and designer labels from, among others, M&S, Adidas, Next, FatFace, Clarks, Ben Sherman, Molton Brown and Radley London. If you’ve got food on the brain, it’s also home to one of the largest Morrisons supermarkets in the region.
Metrocentre, over in Gateshead, is one of Europe’s largest covered shopping centres with more than 300 retail outlets
The Royal Quays Outlet Centre has more than 50 shops and is just a short Metro or bus ride from Newcastle city centre. Clarks, Next, The Body Shop, Julian Charles, Moss Bros, Mountain Warehouse and Trespass all have clearance and factory stores where you can pick up bargains galore.
Olivia’s Baby Boutique is a must for exquisite Portuguese and Spanish outfits, Garden World offers superb plants at unbeatable prices and no trip to Royal Quays would be complete without pizza and ice cream at Mooranda’s.
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