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The best places to go shopping in Manchester

Manchester rocks when it comes to retail with its mixture of high street favourites, designer boutiques, cool independents and malls. Stroll through the city streets for a shopping experience that can range from buying cheese in a European-style market to a designer suit from a world-class department store.

Luxury stores

Manchester’s shops rival those in the capital and many of the high street brands have opened flagship stores in the city, like Uniqulo, which has opened its only store outside London on the former BHS site on Market Street, Next with its pizza and prosecco bar and Zara which commands four floors of merchandise at the Deansgate end of Market Street.

The high end stores such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges go the extra mile for their customers offering personal shopping services for men and women which is perfect if you are buying for a specific occasion or for the season and need a little help. They may even pour you a glass of fizz or two to get you in a buying mood!

You don’t have to stop at new clothes as the stores can also arrange for make-up, hair and a manicure if you wish to undergo a complete revamp. It’s as much about the ‘experience’ and entertainment as it is about finding that perfect purchase. Look out for art exhibitions, talks and customer evenings throughout the year.

Designer shopping can be found at the Deansgate end of the city with boutique stores like Paul Smith, Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, Burberry, Michael Kors and Ugg on New Cathedral Street.

The high end stores such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges go the extra mile for their customers offering personal shopping services for men and women

Designer brands

Selfridges’ Exchange Square is dedicated to fashion and beauty and the second floor is where the well heeled head to pick up prestigious labels such as Victoria Beckham, Diane Von Furstenberg, Balenciagia and Roland Mouret. There’s a fabulous shoe boutique stocked with footwear from Gucci, Kurt Geiger, Louboutin, Malone Souliers, Valentino, YSL and Dolce & Gabbana. The third floor has French chic by Claudie Pierlot, Maje and The Kooples as well as favourites, M&Co, Topshop, Ted Baker and All Saints. Other concessions here include, Gestutz, Ganni, Joseph, Lavish Alice, See by Chloe and Self Portrait. The menswear on the first floor includes Tiger of Sweden, Ralph Lauren and Ted Baker, while the ground floor has Tiffany, Mulberry, Chanel, YSL, and Louis Vuitton amongst its mini-boutiques.

Over at Harvey Nichols there’s more upscale fashion, including for women Amanda Wakeley and shoes by Charlotte Olympia and for men, Alexander McQueen and Givenchy. The store also fulfils any shopper’s culinary curiosity with its food market on the second floor.

You'll find Selfridges in Exchange Square at the heart of the city

You’ll find Selfridges in Exchange Square at the heart of the city

Beauty is big for Manchester shoppers and Harvey Nichols is where you’ll find Rihanna’s uber cult brand, Fenty, Sisley, Jo Malone, Crème De La Mer, Chantecaille, and new addition, La Prairie. Have your hair done at Show beauty indulge in a treatment at Flint + Flint, or have your nails done at Only Fingers & Toes.

Across from Cathedral Walks is St Ann’s Square where you’ll find the Barbour store, Molton Brown and Office. From St Ann’s Square it’s a few steps to St Ann’s street fronting the delightful Italianate St Ann’s Church which has Space NK, Russell & Bromley and the city’s jewellery quarter where you can buy dazzling baubles at David M Robinson, Mappin & Webb and Boodles.

Selfridges’ Exchange Square is dedicated to fashion and beauty and the second floor is where the well heeled head to pick up prestigious labels

High street favourites

Just off St Ann’s Square is the Royal Exchange Shopping Centre, which has men’s clothing store Lanigan and Hulme selling brands such as Hackett, Crombie, Sunspel, John Smedley, Orlebar Brown and Dents Gloves, the super cool outdoor clothing brand Fjallraven and Watches of Switzerland.

Heading away from Deansgate towards Piccadilly, along Market Street you’ll find all the main high street brands and the city’s Arndale Centre. Market Street can be a full on experience, especially at the weekends with its crowds, hawkers, buskers, trams and the bustle but it’s just locals out having fun and buying up half of Primark. Here is where to find all the major names from Tesco to TK Maxx, as well as the new Uniqulo. There’s Boots and Clarks alongside funky Urban Outfitters, All Saints.

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, the Foot Asylum, Topshop, River Island, Radley, 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. At the Cross Street end of the Arndale there are two entrances. One exits into Market Street and the other on the upper level leads through a covered walkway into Marks & Spencer and Selfridges.

Heading away from Deansgate towards Piccadilly, along Market Street you’ll find all the main high street brands and the city’s Arndale Centre

Boutiques for label lovers

The free Metroshuttle bus, or Metrolink tram, which includes Cross Street next to Selfridges, are great ways to travel around if bags get heavy but a sprightly stroll about the city is much more fun when the sun shines.
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.

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

Seek out hidden gems in Barton Arcade

Seek out hidden gems in Barton Arcade

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, as well as Jigsaw, Cath Kidston, Diesel, Agent Provocateur, 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 Garcons and Rick Owens. It’s a big favourite with all those WAGS and millionaire footballers, too.

Just off St Ann’s Square and backing onto Deansgate is the elegant Barton Arcade, home to trendy BarberBarber men’s grooming, R Store menswear and William Hunt tailoring

Independents galore

In contrast, the Northern Quarter is Manchester’s boho area – a warren of atmospheric streets packed with independent shops, 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. You’ll find everything from printed T-shirts and vintage clothing to a tattoo parlours here, as well as art galleries like Egoiste and 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.

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 Bo Concept, 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 intu 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 Selfridges and John Lewis to Armani Exchange and Hollister.

On the fringes of the city, areas like Chorlton and Didsbury are perfect for a more laid-back shopping experience, poking around trendy boutiques and bookshops and unique designer furnishings. Alderley Edge, frequented by TV’s Housewives of Cheshire, is just a short train ride away from and is an exceptional location for fashion and food shopping. Buy designer labels at Coggles and cake at G Weinholt.

Wilmslow is a great place to shop too. It has Hoopers department store, Black White and Denim and designer Caroline Charles’ only shop outside London, while a 20 minute tram ride away from the city is Altrincham. With its trendy marketplace and terrific independent shopping, it is well worth a visit.


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The best nightlife in Manchester

Your guide to arts and culture in Manchester

Image credits: ©intu Trafford Centre; John Clarke/clarkephotography.co.uk/Afflecks; Marketing Manchester; VisitBritain/Andrew Pickett/Ben Selway; Zeremskimilan/Adobe Stock

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