Mobile menu

The best places to go shopping in York

Shambles

The Shambles

The Shambles

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.

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 Cuffs & Co, stocking everything for the well-groomed man, and Essence Of Peru’s alpaca clothes and gifts – look for the large llama.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, Shambles is your dream street. Said to be the location which inspired the movie version of Diagon Alley, 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. Be warned though – sometimes you have to queue to get in. Thanks to a new initiative 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.

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 High Street

Shopping in York

York offers a mix of high street and independent stores

Coney Street has been the hub of the York shopping experience since Viking times. Today you’ll find the likes of Boots, WH Smith, River Island, Next, Waterstones and Paperchase here. Coney Street seamlessly becomes Spurriergate at its southern end. This is home to Stormfront, official retailer of all things Apple, and a buzzy modern building housing Zara and H&M. Around the corner in High Ousegate are more big names, including Lakeland and Fat Face.

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. Close by is York’s branch of Toymaster on Market Street. Parliament Street’s the place for an al fresco drink or sandwich on a summer’s day, with several cafés spilling tables and chairs into the area near the fountain – now, sadly, bereft of water.

Walk towards the Minster from Parliament Street and you enter Davygate. One end is dominated by Browns, the long-established family-run store housed in a Grade 2-listed building where sophisticated shoppers while away a few hours – or even a whole day.

You’ll find prestigious names like Chanel, Clinique and Estee 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.

Walk towards the Minster from Parliament Street and you enter Davygate. One end is dominated by Browns, the long-established family-run store housed in a Grade 2-listed building where sophisticated shoppers while away a few hours – or even a whole day

Hair and beauty

You'll find Fenwick in the Coppergate Centre

You’ll find Fenwick in the Coppergate Centre

There’s more to do than just shop, however. Browns boasts its own hair and beauty salon – Regis – on the first floor, as well as a café and a restaurant. Davygate is also home to Cornwall women’s fashion retailer Seasalt and Space NK Apothecary, the luxury beauty boutique.

York’s city centre Primark aims to be a place to chill as well as shop, with comfy seats, free wi-fi and charging points for mobile devices. Its big sister Primark is found in the Monks Cross Shopping Centre out of town.

Also in the Coppergate Centre is department store Fenwick, selling fashion, fragrances, homeware, toys and boasting a branch of Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s. 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 cookshop is located on the lower ground floor alongside the toy department.

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

Out of town

Shopping in York

You’ll be able to purchase luxury brands in and around the city

York’s swish Vangarde Shopping Park opened in 2014. Its flagship store is John Lewis, which sells everything from £1 doilies to £5,000 TVs across 95,000 sq ft of retail space. Its neighbours are a glass-fronted Next store, selling fashion and homeware, and a M&S which includes a beauty hall and a café with views all the way to York Minster. There’s plenty to eat and drink at Vangarde, too, with the likes of Prezzo, Giraffe and Nando’s close to the big stores.

Next door to Vangarde is the Monks Cross Shopping Centre. It continues to thrive with big names like WH Smith, Sainsbury’s and Boots – and loads of free parking. Just outside the city centre is Foss Islands Retail Park, home to both a Waitrose and a Morrisons, plus DIY favourite Homebase. It’s easy to find, just look for the giant chimney.

More big names can be found at the Clifton Moor shopping park. And to the south you’ll find many a cut-price label at York Designer Outlet off the A19. With 120 stores – from Superdry to Swarovski, Paperchase to Paul Smith – selling items at up to 60 per cent discount, the outlet draws shoppers from across Yorkshire.

You’ll find many a cut-price label at York Designer Outlet off the A19. With 120 stores – from Superdry to Swarovski, Paperchase to Paul Smith – selling items at up to 60 per cent discount, the outlet draws shoppers from across Yorkshire

Fashion

Dog & Bone Vintage

Dog & Bone Vintage

York now hosts a cornucopia of colourful fashion retailers, from favourite big names to independent boutiques who cater for every age and taste. Head first to the Coppergate Centre, York’s brick-built shopping development a few stout steps from the castle, and check out the latest trends in Topman and Miss Selfridge. Low Petergate, just a few yards from York Minster, is home to every sort of fashion. Mint Velvet, LK Bennett and Moda In Pelle sells their classy styles here. Men are catered for with family-run menswear store Robert Smart.

It’s well worth exploring this area more fully. Round the corner in Stonegate, home to some of York’s most expensive retail real estate, you’ll find the north of England’s first branch of fashion and homeware brand Oliver Bonas. A newer arrival is Abraham Moon, selling a range of fashion created at its Guiseley woollen mill. White Stuff, Whistles and Cath Kidston are nearby.

On Back Swinegate you’ll find independent menswear specialist Winstons of York, while Old Sole is a bespoke luxury men’s shoe shop. There’s more for the men at Lambretta Clothing on the corner of Spurriergate, with mod fashions to the fore. And if it’s headgear you’re looking for, The Hat Shop on Pavement has every size and style of titfer.

In the last year or two York has developed an impressive vintage clothing scene. Dog & Bone showcases two floors of retro style on Castlegate. Fossgate is home to Bowler and over on Goodramgate you’ll find the Chinese Laundry store. Glory Days on Micklegate specialises in vintage bridalwear, while York also hosts regular vintage fairs, many of them in Fossgate’s Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.

In the last year or two York has developed an impressive vintage clothing scene. Dog & Bone showcases two floors of retro style on Castlegate. Fossgate is home to Bowler and over on Goodramgate you’ll find the Chinese Laundry store

Art, antiques and books

Shopping in York

York is the perfect place for bookworms

York is the perfect place for a bookworm to go burrowing. As well as Waterstones on Coney Street, the city has many independent outlets. One of the friendliest is the Little Apple Bookshop on High Petergate, which also sells a fine range of stationery. They know their stuff – one member of staff, Fiona Mozley, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize with her debut novel in 2017.

For rare and secondhand books, start at Ken Spelman on Micklegate. The Times rightly described it as a ’treasure trove’, with thousands of books and manuscripts in stock, experts on hand, and a real fire in winter.

Climb the creaky stairs of the Minster Gate Bookshop to find that special volume on one of its five-floors, and be sure to visit Janette Ray on Bootham, which sells rare and out of print works, and volumes on architecture and design. The Grimoire Bookshop on High Petergate has three rooms of antiquarian and second hand titles, with one dedicated to sci-fi and fantasy titles.

The art lover, too, won’t leave York empty-handed. Lotte Inch on Bootham is a place to discover fresh artists, designers and makers. The Blue Tree Gallery is close by on the same street.

Climb the creaky stairs of the Minster Gate Bookshop to find that special volume on one of its five-floors, and be sure to visit Janette Ray on Bootham, which sells rare and out of print works, and volumes on architecture and design

British art and jewellery

Shopping in York

Creatives are well catered for here

According To McGee is a contemporary white cube on Tower Street which champions a range of artists, while the New School House Gallery on Peasholme Green hosts innovative exhibitions and a regular stock of celebrated makers.

Set in an 18th-century print works on Grape Lane, Pica Studios houses the workshops of 18 artists, makers, writers and musicians. The Pyramid Gallery on Stonegate specialises in British art and jewellery, the Braithwaite Gallery on Low Petergate is run by artist Mark Braithwaite and his wife Anne, and Blossom Street Gallery and Framing holds exhibitions all year round. As well as selling jewellery, ceramics and glass, the Village Gallery on Colliergate hosts exhibitions of contemporary fine art and craftwork.

Musicians will love 200-year-old Banks Musicroom on Lendal, selling a large range of instruments and sheet music. Guitar specialist MOR Music is based in a large showroom off Fossgate, while Red Cow Music, on Goodramgate, sells concertinas, mandolas, accordions, African drums and ukuleles.

Antiques lovers are spoiled for choice. The Antiques Centre on Stonegate is home to many traders and thousands of collectables from coins to prints to toys. On the same street, Cavendish Antiques boasts three floors of treasures. A further 60 dealers are inside The Red House on Duncombe Place, while Northern Antiques specialises in pottery, porcelain, glass and silver.

The Pyramid Gallery on Stonegate specialises in British art and jewellery, the Braithwaite Gallery on Low Petergate is run by artist Mark Braithwaite and his wife Anne, and Blossom Street Gallery and Framing holds exhibitions all year round

Indie York

Shopping in York

Independent shops are the name of the shopping game in York

One of the great joys of shopping in York is the eclectic range of independently-run retailers. Unlike so many towns and cities, York is not overrun by chains but has a thriving sector of unique, home-grown businesses.

This was underlined in 2015 when Bishopthorpe Road, a parade of indie shops and cafés a short walk south of the city centre, was named GB High Street Of The Year. Known to locals as Bishy Road, it includes everything from a hardware store to an organic children’s clothing shop. With a great deli, some wonderful places to eat, and the delights of Rowntree Park and the riverside not far away, you could make a day of it.

The city centre has its own share of independents. One of the most unusual is Pandora’s Box on Colliergate, ’your one stop weird shop’. Selling curiosities from articulated bat skeletons to baby head candles, its owners also host regular taxidermy workshops. Many more are mentioned elsewhere in this section, or you can check out the Indie York website (indieyork.co.uk) for more. And Spark:York, an entrepreneurial hub created out of shipping containers, is bringing some quirkier retailers to the heart of the city.

One of the great joys of shopping in York is the eclectic range of independently-run retailers. Unlike so many towns and cities, York is not overrun by chains but has a thriving sector of unique, home-grown businesses

Food and drink

Shopping in York

Treat yourself to some hand-made delights

Shambles Market, found between Shambles and Parliament Street, sells a daily selection of fresh fruit, veg, meat and fish (not to mention clothes, music, pet accessories and more). The monthly farmers’ market is also held here. In one corner of the marketplace you’ll also find Henshelwoods Deli, with its wonderful array of cheeses, hams, pastas and chutneys. It stocks more than 80 types of cheese. Cut through Little Shambles to find artisan baker Bluebird.

The Hairy Fig off Fossgate offers truffle oil, pastrami, mussels and wonderful gifts for the foodie in your life. On the other side of town, Mannion & Co is a deli and café with a distinctive continental feel which opened in a former greengrocer’s shop in Blake Street.

On Gillygate Love Cheese sells cheeses from Yorkshire and across the UK, with a few continental varieties, as well as artisan bread. You can create a curry as good as the one in your favourite restaurant with a pack of flavourings from Rafi’s Spicebox on Goodramgate – it was named the Best Independent Retailer in the 2017 Observer Food Monthly Awards. The first traditional butcher’s shop to open in York in many years, Appleton’s, sells delicious pork pies, cured hams and patés from its home on Lendal.

Demijohn on Museum Street – the “liquid deli” – serves up an amazing range of olives oils, balsamic vinegars and fruit vinegars. Similarly, il Gusto on Low Petergate sells oils and vinegars, liqueurs, whiskies, rums and brandies. The best news of all? You’re never far from chocolate perfection in this city. York Cocoa House is home to a wonderful array of treats – adding a factory and visitor centre on Castlegate in 2018 – while Monk Bar Chocolatiers on Shambles offers a taste of hand-made heaven.

Shambles Market, found between Shambles and Parliament Street, sells a daily selection of fresh fruit, veg, meat and fish (not to mention clothes, music, pet accessories and more). The monthly farmers’ market is also held here

Gifts and specialists

Shopping in York

There are lots of specialist shops in York

There are lots of specialist shops in York but none more delightful than Duttons for Buttons. All your haberdashery needs will be met inside this lopsided building on Coppergate, which dates from 1422, and stocks every size and shape of button imaginable.

Crafty people should also seek out York Makery on Gillygate – with stock including silk modelling clay, hooked Zpaghetti T-shirt yarn and even knicker-making kits – and Gillies Fabrics down Peter Lane.

In 2016 one of York’s best known shops, china and glass specialists Mulberry Hall, closed down. But part of its historic home on Stonegate has been taken over by a new gift shop, Käthe Wohlfahrt, a German retailer specialising in all things Christmas.

Monk Bar Model Shop is the place to go for model railways, plastic kits and diecast vehicles – or try P & S Hobbies and Models on Walmgate. And it is well worth a trip out to Wigginton Road to visit the ’world’s smallest Lego shop’, Minifigs And Bricks.

In 2016 one of York’s best known shops, china and glass specialists Mulberry Hall, closed down. But part of its historic home on Stonegate has been taken over by a new gift shop, Käthe Wohlfahrt, a German retailer specialising in all things Christmas

Vinyl and CDs

Purchase a memento of your trip

Earworm Records, found via an alleyway off Goodramgate, stocks vinyl and CDs, T shirts and more for the music connoisseur. Head to Fossgate to choose from Give The Dog A Bone’s colourful and offbeat range of cards and gifts and pick out a proper pen from Signatures. Lovers of quality stationery have a new treat in town – a visit to Paperesque on Shambles, stockists of beautiful journals and calligraphy supplies.

Snowhome on Gillygate is great for contemporary homeware designs, while Daisy Taylor’s on King’s Square is another card and gift shop worth a look. Upside Down is a new addition to Bootham, offering unique home décor ideas.

Low Petergate’s Cat Gallery is filled up to its whiskers with all things feline, while Cleggs on Goodramgate stocks an eclectic range of homewares and gifts. And don’t forget, in the run up to Christmas, St Nicholas Fair takes over Parliament Street with crafts, gifts, clothes, food and drink.


Everything you need to know about York

Where to eat in York

The best things to do in York

The best nightlife in York

Your guide to arts and culture in York

Image credits: ©Alex Holyoake/Annie Theby/Kirsten Drew/Mike Petrucci/Unsplash; Coppergate Shopping Centre; Dariusz T Oczkowic/PeopleImages.com/WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe Stock; Dog & Bone Vintage; ING Image

Featured places to shop

More places to shop >
×