England's third-largest city after London and Manchester, Birmingham is a must-visit place on any UK itinerary. Affectionately called Brum by the locals, Birmingham's central location in the West Midlands, basically in the middle of the country, makes it the ideal place to visit for a few days or as a stop on a road trip heading north from London. Once in Birmingham, tourists have access to fine dining, green spaces, world-class museums, and exciting nightlife.
Birmingham is the birthplace of such familiar brands as Cadbury, HP Sauce, Bird's Custard, and Typhoo Tea. It's also famous for its heavy metal scene and other contributions to local and internationally-known musicians. Some or all of the members of bands like Led Zeppelin, Duran Duran, UB40, and legendary front-man Ozzy Osbourne all called this city home at one point. As a result, the city hosts over 50 different festivals, most featuring the best in local music and fantastic street food.
Shopping in Birmingham is some of the best in the country with everything from vintage and antique shops to shopping malls, markets, high streets, and department stores. Chances are, if there's something you need, you can find it here, especially in the City Centre. With such a dense concentration of shops, you're bound to find many treasures in your travels, so make sure you're not carrying more than you need to. Head to a Bounce luggage storage in Birmingham to drop off your bags. That way, your hands will be free for all the new clothes, jewelry, and home furnishings you're going to buy. Here is a list to help you sort through all the fabulous Birmingham shopping options:
Bullring & Grand Central
One of the most popular shopping destinations in all of England, Bullring & Grand Central is where you can find all the well-known mid-range brands under one roof just a two-minute walk from New Street Station. The contemporary mall is located in the City Centre and is open from 10 am to 8 pm most days with shorter hours on Sunday. The shopping mall is the largest in Birmingham and offers access to brands like Zara, GAP, Calvin Klein, and H&M. The shops are spread over three floors in a light and airy space that's a perfect way to spend a rainy day in Birmingham. This mall is a suitable place for young and old from parents and kids to teenagers and seniors due to its wide range of stores and ease of access to everything.
All this retail therapy is sure to work up an appetite, and luckily, Bullring & Grand Central has some fantastic dining options. You'll find fast food like Burger King, Nando's, and Greggs alongside proper restaurants and bars. You can grab something quickly to get back to shopping or leisurely wind down to recover from all the excitement of your perfect finds.
Great Western Arcade
Located in the Birmingham City Centre, Great Western Arcade is home to many independent retailers if you're looking to buy some unique gifts from local shops. The surroundings are full of Victorian-era charm, which makes this more of an upscale and elegant shopping experience. The shops can be found on Colmore Row and have generous opening hours from 6:30 am to 10 pm, although not all stores are open the whole time. This is a great spot to find hidden gems while supporting smaller retailers rather than large national and international chains.
Everyone can get a little out of a visit to the Great Western Arcade. Aside from shopping, the building itself teems with history. The structure was completed in 1877 to span a railway tunnel, and although it sustained damage during WWII, it has been lovingly restored. Be sure to check out the original moldings and Temple Row's stone masonry, which are both original.
Also located in the Birmingham City Centre, Martineau Place is a true one-stop shop for shopping, dining, and staying on your trip to Birmingham. The centre is easily accessible via the Birmingham public transportation system in case you decide not to stay at the on-site hotel. This mall with outdoor sections is well-used by locals for its convenience and abundance of useful stores. You won't find too many specialty shops here, the focus is on everyday items with a purpose. The iconic Boots drugstore has a large location here, as does the popular Sainsbury's grocery store. There are two different Poundland locations for those who like to shop on a strict budget and tons of restaurants.
Find this shopping mall in the Corporation Street area intersected by pedestrianized Union Street, Bull Street, and High Street, which all have great shopping options themselves. Martineau Place is generally open from 8 am to 8 pm, but some stores have shorter hours.
The Square Shopping Centre
Another location in the City Centre otherwise known as downtown Birmingham, The Square is the place to go when you don't want to navigate a sprawling shopping mall. The centre features 20 different stores that should have just enough choice, but not too much, of clothes, home goods, and shoes. There are also many fast food and takeaway restaurants to make sure you won't go hungry. The setting is open-air with covered portions in case it's raining.
Open from 9 am to 6 pm on The Priory Queensway, The Square Shopping Centre has a monthly market if you happen to time your trip right. The shopping area also hosts plenty of music events throughout the year.
Lovers of high-end shopping should insist on a visit to The Mailbox. Chock full of designer labels and luxury English brands, The Mailbox is a real experience. You'll find everything from Harvey Nichols to Armani here, and the mall boasts an extensive home section on level one if you happen to be on the lookout for furniture and household goods.
When you've exhausted the shopping, The Mailbox also has a spa and a boutique movie theater with extra comfortable sofa seating. It's also home to the BBC Birmingham studios right in the City Centre. The mall is open from 8 am to 7 pm every day except Sunday when it closes at 5 pm instead.
For an iconic England shopping adventure, you have to visit a high street. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a high street, especially historically, is the traditional location for a city's shopping, banking, and other businesses, similar to a main street in North America.
The best of the high streets in Birmingham is New Street and a trip here, preferably on a sunny day, is a must. Typical high street brands here include Boots, Claire's, H&M, and Hollister. As you meander along the street you can stop in for a bite at one of the many cafes and restaurants or just grab something on the go from a fast food spot. Luckily, if you develop a taste for high street shopping, there are other options close by. Check out Corporation Street and High Street (not to be confused with the general term). Maybe the Brummies like to keep things a little confusing.
Vintage @ Digbeth Street
For anyone looking to score a rare vintage find, Birmingham has you covered for that, too. Head over to Digbeth Street for some of the best vintage shopping in town. Two of the city's favorite shops are here: Dark Bull Vintage and Cow Vintage. The neighborhood of Digbeth is worth a visit for any shoppers who love quirky boutiques, bargains, and like to shop local.
You can easily walk in about ten minutes from Bullring & Grand Central to this area, once called the "coolest neighborhood in Britain." When you've exhausted all the shopping, there are arts venues, theaters, and tasty street food to keep you busy.
Steps from the vintage shops of Digbeth Street, you'll find the independent retailers in the Custard Factory Shopping Centre. Home to innovative digital businesses, interesting cafes, and vibrant bars, this is a destination full of charm. Set in 15 acres of restored Victorian factories, one of which is the old Bird's Custard Factory, the mall's namesake, the area is heaven for unusual finds and fashion-forward clothing.
The Custard Factory is a hub of creativity in Birmingham and as a result, tends to appeal more to the younger crowd. With that said, all ages are welcome to explore the popular shops and restaurants. Even if you don't spend a dime, the area is full of history and street art ideal for a wander around.
More than 4o percent of the UK's jewelry is located in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter. You'll find all the sparkling baubles you could ever imagine right in the City Centre, and most of the items in the various stores are not exactly budget-friendly. It's worth a trip to the Jewellery Quarter just to browse all the amazing diamond and gold items on display in the shop windows, even if you can't afford to take one home. If you can, a precious ring or necklace that you'll wear all the time is a great souvenir of your trip to the West Midlands.
Rag Market and Flea Market
Open on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Birmingham's Rag Market features over 350 stalls that sell everything from small housewares to clothing to textiles. In fact, the term "rag market" refers to a large number of unique fabrics on display here. Similar to a typical flea market, the stalls are open from 9 am to 5 pm.
In addition to the Rag Market, the area around Bullring & Central has an open market from Tuesday to Saturday for all your meat, fish, and produce needs. These markets pair well with a trip to Bullring & Grand Central since the walking distance is minimal.
If you're into antiques and rare finds, then a trip to City Arcade is ideal. Located on Union Street, this collection of independent retailers offers unique treasures in a small shopping centre. Full of historical charm and an arched ceiling with skylights, you'll feel like you're shopping outside without being exposed to the weather. A highlight here for craft beer fans is TILT. Take a few brews home with you or sit at their bar for a rest before trying one of their pinball machines. You can also grab a quick meal after you're done shopping.
We mentioned Harvey Nicholshere previously, but this world-famous department store deserves a mention all on its own. Known for luxury brands and a lovely shopping experience, Harvey Nichols is located in The Mailbox, and even if you don't want to tour this mall, stop by and visit Harvey Nichols at least.
Aside from high-end clothing and accessories, the store carries extravagant beauty products and gourmet food. A visit here is a splurge for most, but even if you're only able to window shop, it's worth it.
Another worthwhile mention in the realm of luxury is Selfridges. Founded in 1908 in London, this department store has evolved over the years to become a favorite with locals and tourists - if they can afford it, that is. In Birmingham, the Selfridges is one of only four in the country and you can easily find it at Bullring & Grand Central. The building itself looks like something out of the future with rounded edges, round metal discs on its surface, and a see-through tunnel.
Come here for the best collection of designer brands, toys, and special gifts. The store is open from 10 am to 8 pm with shortened Sunday hours like most Birmingham retailers.
Birmingham is a shoppers paradise with everything from discount stores like Poundland to high-end luxury shops like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. The range in between these two extremes is even more vast, and the middle is the price range where most people are comfortable. Besides, if you spend too much on luxury goods you'll have no money left to keep traveling.
There's truly something for everyone when it comes to shopping in Birmingham, and the stores are set in historic locations, contemporary malls, and charming arcades so there's always something nice to look at - even if you aren't into clothes and shoes.