Shopping in Nottingham

There are many fantastic places for both residents and visitors to go shopping in Great Britain, and Nottingham holds its own with the best of them. The city not only has a huge variety of nationally known shops and brand names, but also a great selection of local and unique specialties, and over two million people shop regularly in the area. Its shopping areas are also a joy to explore on foot, as the city has paid attention to detail in its development protected walkways, well-tended floral displays, and abundant sidewalk dining. Those areas which are not within walking distance are accessible via the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) trams, which run 6 am to midnight most days.

Nottingham is the third most popular city for shopping in Great Britain, ranked ahead of Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and numerous other large cities, and behind only Birmingham and London itself in popularity. It has over 1300 shops, six department stores, and two shopping centres, with many lesser-known byways full of shopping opportunities as well.

The most popular retail area in the city is the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, opened in the southern end of the city in 1972. It is home to some ninety stores, including big names like Bhs, H&M, Argos, Boots the Chemist, and TK Maxx, as well as smaller ones like JD Sports, New Look, Ethel Austin, and Wilkinson. The centre is named after the “broad marsh” that once stood in the location; a number of crumbling medieval buildings were razed to make way for the development. However, many of the historic caves excavated in the sandstone foundations were rediscovered, cleaned up, and put on display in the “City of Caves” attraction, accessible from within the shopping centre. The Westfield Group, the owners of Broadmarsh, won approval for a £400 million redevelopment project which will overhaul the shopping areas, the car park, and the nearby bus station over the next several years.

In Royal Centre, near the Theatre Royal, the Royal Concert Hall and the Cornerhouse, is the Victoria Centre. This classy shopping centre was built on the site of the old Nottingham Victoria railway station which was demolished in 1967, except for the red brick clock tower which was incorporated into the new design. Victoria Centre is anchored by the John Lewis and House of Fraser store, and has over 120 other stores including Boots the Chemist, The Entertainer, Topshop Evolution, GAP, Tesco Metro, Swarovski, HMV, and many more. The middle of the centre hosts a traditional indoor market, with stalls offering fabric, fruit, and other fabulous fripperies.

The Flying Horse Walk (a complex of twenty shops built into a classic old hotel) and the Exchange Arcade are exclusive shopping arcades just off the Old Market Square in the Nottingham City Centre. Their high end boutiques are filled with an endless array of stylish and tasteful clothing, furniture, arts and accessories. Debenhams, Limeys, and Marks & Spencer are all located nearby, as are many specialty shops on Poultry Walk, West End Arcade, Hurts Yard and other unobtrusive streets and alleys. The Market Square itself hosts numerous seasonal markets.

For a deeper excursion into fashion, one must visit Bridlesmith Gate (nicknamed “Posh Man’s Alley”), a mercantile street which developed into a true mecca of designer culture when local clothier Paul Smith launched his first shop in Nottingham there. Other designers, including Diesel, Flannels, Ted Baker, Reiss and Kurt Geiger have also set up shops in the neighbourhood, and these and other shops offer such coveted brands as Prada, Gucci, Hugo Boss and Manolo Blahnik.

Looking for something a little more edgy? The Hockley Village area, adjacent to the Lace Market, is the centre of a rich alternative culture. The clothing shops, bars, restaurants, galleries, record shops, and charmingly off-kilter New Age businesses support a lively neighbourhood full of artists, students, and free spirits. The unusual mix of cutting edge fashion (and sometimes body modification) with the elegant historic architecture makes for a fascinating micro culture.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the gentle pace of Derby Road near the Royal Centre, specializing in collectible antiques and fine art. There is a fine ethnic shopping area of Hyson Green on Radford Road, where you can find imported goods and foods from India and a dozen other nations. The Hyson Green area hosts a weekly street market which takes place every Wednesday.

Those interested in learning more about Nottingham and its history can explore the Lace Centre, the Museum of Costume and Textlies, the Brewhouse Yard Museum, and the Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery for more fine gifts and books. Speaking of books, the four floors of Waterstone’s in Bridlesmith Gate are sure to provide reading material for people of all ages and inclinations, and the shop provides coffee and space to relax in.
In short, there is a world of opportunity for shopping pleasure in the streets of Nottingham.