I'm an award-winning online writer and journalist.
Published May 15th 2013
Off to the shops? Find where to go shopping in Manchester
Broadly speaking, shopping in Manchester divides into three, distinct areas: high street, pricey and quirky.
You'll find clusters of these shops scattered around the city and it's great fun to wander at will from one to the other. No wonder Manchester lasses do "pick 'n' mix" fashion better than the ladies in most other cities.
So let me take you on a tour of some of my favourite places to shop in Manchester.
You get great views of the city from the top floor of Harvey Nichols
Market Street and The Trafford Centre
Market Street is essentially Manchester's high street. This is where you'll find all those handy high street names like Tesco, TK Maxx, Miss Selfridge and Mango. It's essentially mainstream and mid-priced, although you'll find classy joints like Urban Outfitters in the mix. Market Street also leads on to the Arndale Centre, Manchester's main city centre shopping arcade, which has all those British shopping staples: Topshop, Next and River Island.
The £1.6 billion Trafford Centre is one of Britain's most famous out-of-town malls. Its interiors make it feel like a giant cruise ship. Its design was influenced by American shopping malls and it's home to John Lewis and Manchester's second branch of Selfridges.
Exchange Square, Deansgate and Spinningfields The whole of this area is one breathless flurry of designer names – the spiritual home of all Patsy-from-Ab-Fab aspirants. Start at Exchange Square, where you'll find the Triangle, home to upmarket ladies' brands such as Jigsaw, East and Kew, before crossing over to those sparkling jewels in the designer crown: Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Disappointingly, Selfridges no longer has its food hall but it does have handbags – many of them – and brands like Gucci, Paul Smith, Victoria Beckham and – one of my cash-splurge favourites – Malene Birger. Harvey Nichols has a stunning second floor brasserie and bar with wrap-around city views, plus a fabulous shoe studio.
Visit the Creative Recycling Centre for striking artwork.
Beyond Exchange Square lies St Ann's Square, a hub of shoe shops and jewellers like Kurt Geiger and Office and Deansgate, the home of what is reputedly one of the oldest department stores in the world – known to all in the city as Kendals but, more formally, as House of Fraser. Linking the two is King Street, home of boutiques like Karen Millen and Liam Gallagher's label Pretty Green (perhaps he'd have called it Oasis if that name hadn't already been taken!)
Continue beyond Deansgate and you'll find Spinningfields, one of the newest and most fashionable areas of the city and home of premium names such as Emporio Armani and Flannels.
The Northern Quarter By now your credit card may be begging you for mercy – but perhaps the mainstream high street styles just aren't to your taste. In that case, may I suggest a visit to Manchester's Northern Quarter, the home of boho, alternative fashion.
Affleck's Palace is a huge warehouse of printed T-shirts and vintage ware. You can easily pass a whole morning in this place, strolling the stores and basking in the vibe, before moving on to the equally alternative haunts of Magma Bookshop – a small chain stocking beautiful design-reads – and Retro Rehab which is basically all the lovely, girlie things you can imagine all under one roof and The Junk Shop – deeply novel clothes and jewellery.
And if your search for the alternative is taking you further afield, why not visit Manchester's suburbs? In Chorlton, for example, you'll find the Creative Recycling Centre which specialises in original, contemporary artwork and decorative gifts.