The best retailers and independent stores in Manchester

By Janet Reeder

Manchester hosts a cornucopia of colourful fashion retailers, from favourite big names to independent boutiques who cater for every age and taste. Here are some of the best places to shop.

Independent boutiques

The Northern Quarter is Manchester’s boho area and is a warren of atmospheric streets packed with independent stores, bars and restaurants, including Jean Jackson NQ, a funky bridal boutique and Frog Flowers. It has at its centre the alternative shopping mall, Afflecks, which has managed to survive against the odds as an indoor market and meeting place for the funky and young for more than 30 years.

Afflecks alternative shopping centre in Manchester

Unearth vintage and second-hand treasures in Afflecks

You could spend an afternoon finding the perfect vintage outfit, or finding a custom-printed T-shirt. Maybe get inked, or buy an original artwork at Egoiste, stopping by at Ginger’s ice cream and coffee shop. There’s an entrance on Oldham Street, a defiant mixture of bars and trendy shops like Pop Boutique, the excellent Magma design bookshop and the Lumix camera shop as well as celebrated record shop hangouts like Vinyl Exchange.

Unique stores

Track down delights like jewellery and pottery at Manchester Craft Centre, all of which would make lovely unique gifts. Buy sourdough at Pollen, enjoy a candle-making workshop at Ancoats General Store and fashionable furniture at BoConcept, at the city’s most fashionable quarter, Ancoats.

As if all this city centre shopping wasn’t enough, there’s the out-of-town experience that includes the behemoth that is The Trafford Centre. A serious shopping destination in its own right, the design of the £1.6bn Trafford Centre recalls a glitzy Vegas hotel mall and if you love everything under one roof you’ll get it, from stores like Selfridges and John Lewis to Armani Exchange and Hollister.

Buy sourdough at Pollen enjoy a candle making workshop at Ancoats General Store and fashionable furniture at BoConcept, at the city’s most fashionable quarter, Ancoats

Manchester Arndale

When the famous Manchester rain falls or you just fancy a respite from the action outdoors, head into the Arndale. This is home to the Apple Store, Accessorize, the City Store, a shop dedicated to one of the two local (and quite famous) football teams. Here you’ll also find, Gap, beauty influencer fave Morphe, Footasylum, Topshop, River Island, Hollister, Jack & Jones, Waterstones, Dune, Next and an indoor market where you can buy anything from fresh lobster to fancy dress – there’s a great alteration service there, too.

Markets & arcades

Cathedral Walks leads across to St Ann’s Square, one of several sites across the city for regular European markets, buzzing with people, food stalls, flowers and gifts.

Sweet treats on sale at a European market in Manchester

Manchester loves a good market, and several take place in St Anne’s Square throughout the year

Just off St Ann’s Square and backing onto Deansgate is the elegant Barton Arcade, trendy Barber Barber men’s grooming, R Store menswear, William Hunt tailoring on the site of the old Jill Black ladieswear store and Jeffery West men’s footwear.

High-end fashion

Cross over to the other side of Deansgate and re-trace your steps until you’re almost opposite Kendals and you’ll arrive at King Street, with its elegant Victorian buildings and pedestrianised cobbles. Here you’ll find Hawes and Curtis, Neal’s Yard Remedies and The White Company, Charles Tyrwhitt, Duo shoes and White Stuff, as well as Jigsaw, Diesel, DKNY, Belstaff, Vivienne Westwood and at Harrington & Hallworth you can pick up a stunning watch or some exquisite jewellery.

On nearby Brown Street is Hervia Bazaar the perfect boutique for label lovers, stocking design mavericks like Yohji Yamamoto, Sibling, Comme des Garçons and Rick Owens. It’s a big favourite with all those WAGS and millionaire footballers, too. With its wide mix of specialist stores and unique outlets, Manchester is a shopper’s paradise. All you need now are your bags!

Take a tour of The Trafford Centre

Read more about Manchester

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Image credits: ©BoConcept Manchester; Cameron Barnes/Unsplash; John Clarke/;; The Trafford Centre; Video: Be Inspired to Travel/YouTube

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