Fantastic retail mix
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 smart department store. Manchester’s shops rival those in the capital and many of the high street brands have opened flagship stores in the city, like French Connection which unveiled its new boutique look at its new store in the Royal Exchange shopping quarter, or Zara which commands four floors of merchandise at the Deansgate end of Market Street.
The high end stores such as Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and House of Fraser 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.
Designer shopping can be found at the Deansgate end of the city with boutique stores like Paul Smith, Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, Michael Kors and Ugg on Cathedral Walks. 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, Celine, Balenciagia and Roland Mouret. There’s a fabulous shoe boutique stocked with footwear from Gucci, Kurt Geiger, Louboutin, Valentino, YSL and Todd’s.
The third floor has French chic by Maje and The Kooples as well as favourites Cos, Topshop, Ted Baker and All Saints. Other concessions here include Claudie Pierlot, Joseph, Ganni, See by Chloe and Self Portrait. The menswear on the first floor includes Barbour and Moncler while the ground floor has Chanel, Hermes, YSL and Louis Vuitton amongst its mini-boutiques.
Manchester rocks when it comes to retail with its mixture of high street favourites, designer boutiques, cool independents and malls
Harvey Nichols Manchester
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. 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 and more. Have your hair done at Show beauty indulge in a treatment at Flint + Flint, or have your brows defined at Shavata Brow Studio.
Across from Cathedral Walks is St Ann’s Square where you’ll find the Barbour store, Camper, 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 Gap, Space NK, Russell & Bromley and the city’s jewellery quarter where you can buy dazzling baubles at Mappin & Webb and Boodles.
Just off St Ann’s Square is the revamped Royal Exchange Shopping Centre which now has men’s clothing store Lanigan and Hulme selling brands such as Hackett, Crombie, Sunspel, John Smedley, Orlebar Brown and Dents Gloves for the first time in the North West, super cool outdoor clothing brand Fjallraven, Watches of Switzerland and a new flagship French Connection Store.
Heading away from Deansgate towards Piccadilly along Market Street is where 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. There’s Debenhams, Mango, Boots and Clarks alongside funky Urban Outfitters, All Saints and for a real sense of being in Manchester, the City Store, a shop dedicated to one of the two local (and quite famous) football teams.
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 and more
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, Aspecto, Accessorize, The Foot Asylum, 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. 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.
The free Metroshuttle bus, or Metrolink tram, which has been extended to include 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 Barber Barber men’s grooming, The Leica Store, Jill Black ladieswear and Jeffrey West men’s footwear and accessories.
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 new additions Hawes and Curtis, Neal’s Yard Remedies and The White Company, joining established brands such as Jigsaw, Cath Kidston, Diesel, Liam Gallagher’s acclaimed Pretty Green, Agent Provocateur, DKNY, Belstaff, and Vivienne Westwood.
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.
When the famous Manchester rain falls or you just fancy a respite from the action outdoors, head into the Arndale
The Northern Quarter
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 here.
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. Track down delights like fresh, hand-made chocolates from Bonbon and jewellery and pottery at Manchester Craft Centre, all of which would make lovely individualistic gifts. Manchester also has a thriving artisan breadmaking scene with bakeries such as Pollen making a real impact on the local artisan food scene.
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 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. Coggles is another recent addition to the ladieswear stores. 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.
Everything you need to know about Manchester
Where to eat in Manchester
The best days out in Manchester
Your guide to arts and culture in Manchester
The best nightlife in Manchester