Everything You Need to Know about Shopping in Bristol31 March, 2022by Bounce
While shopping in Bristol might not have the global recognition of Paris, London, or New York, this charming city offers an amazing retail and boutique scene. In almost every neighborhood, and especially the Shopping Quarter and city center, there are incredible shopping centers and streets for finding everything from international brands to the fine work of local designers.
The Bristol Shopping Quarter is the first and foremost destination for searching out an ideal shopping experience, but it’s far from your only option. There are incredible markets and high streets, and these places are best for exploring Bristol’s emphasis on locally-owned-and-operated boutiques and fashion labels.
Whatever you’re looking for, Bristol has a myriad of amazing options. Drop your bags off at a Bounce luggage storage in Bristol, and you'll be ready to hit the sales. Here are the best tips for shopping in Bristol:
The Best Shopping Destinations in Bristol
Cabot Circus Shopping Centre
Located within the Bristol Shopping Quarter (a place that’s impossible not to visit if you’re a serious shopper), Cabot Circus is one of the most prominent shopping centers in the city. You’ll find all of the most well-known fashion brands here, including Harvey Nichols, All Saints, Zara, and much more. They have stores for electronics, appliances, accessories, and gifts.
Regardless of what your goals for shopping in Bristol are, Cabot Circus offers a unique experience because of its architecture. The transparent roof (important because it lets the sun in when possible, and keeps the famously rainy weather out) allows for an outdoor experience no matter the forecast. Cabot Circus is conveniently located near the Bristol Temple Meads Train Station, so it’s easy to get to with Bristol's handy public transport system. While there are dozens of stores, it’s easy to navigate and only takes about 20 minutes to walk around. The food court also has an option for just about any budget, from upscale sushi to a slice of pizza. Tired of shopping? Take in a movie at the 13-screen Showcase Cinema.
Located near Bristol Coach Station, the Arcade is tucked away in a charming corner of the Bristol Shopping Quarter in an ornate Victorian building. There are over 20 stores in this charming retail corridor, and almost all of them are independently owned and champion local brands and goods.
There are also beauty parlors, cafes, gift shops, and other stores, so all your bases are covered. The Arcade is famously decorative in the holiday months when the whole facility is turned into a Christmas village selling festive gifts, ornaments, and holiday treats.
St. Nicholas Market
Known locally as St. Nick’s, this market is the oldest in Bristol, and one of the most famous traditional British markets in the country. It’s located prominently in the city center, between Corn Street, Broad Street, and Wine Street. This open-air market cultivates a special atmosphere, rivaled only by Harbourside and The Arcade for the most unique shopping experience in Bristol.
Where St. Nicholas Market really thrives has to be the temporary (“pop-up”) markets and events where producers can set up stalls to sell their goods directly to their customers. This includes street food festivals, art fairs, farmer’s markets, and other fun events. The Vegan Wellness Market, Bristol Flea Market, and other entities are iconic in Bristol.
The Galleries are another (of many) reason to spend an entire afternoon at Bristol Shopping Quarter. You’ll find dozens and dozens of familiar stores and international brands throughout this expansive three-story shopping mall.
From here, you can take a quick stroll to Castle Park, which has must-visit sights like St. Peter’s Church, and Bristol Castle. This is a nice destination for balancing all your retail needs and historical curiosity.
Bristol Harbourside Market
No visit to Bristol is even remotely complete without a visit to the charming and historic harbour and the city’s waterfront. Not only is the scenery beautiful and pleasant, but the Harbourside Market has some of the best shopping in Bristol. Every weekend, No. 1 Harbourside is transformed into a sprawling market where clothing, handicrafts, antiques, jewelry, accessories, and other fun wares are all offered directly from merchants.
Even better, some of the best street food in Bristol is served at this market. Not only does Harbourside function as a farmer’s market, but there are also food trucks and street food vendors lining the walkways. So you can grab some fresh produce or pastries along with your fish and chips. As important as the shopping quality, Harbourside Market is a can’t-miss destination for experiencing the vibrant culture of Bristol, and getting some sea air never hurt anyone!
Cribbs Causeway Shopping Centre
Locals bluntly refer to Cribbs Causeway Shopping Centre as “The Mall” and they’re not wrong. Located off of Junction 17 on the M5 Motorway, this shopping mall is one of the largest and best in the area. All of the best designer brands have a presence here including Gap, Next, Topshop, and many others.
This sprawling facility also functions as a retail park that surrounds the mall. Larger retailers like department stores, electronics, and furniture outlets all have locations here. Cribbs Causeway also boasts a 12-screen Vie Cinema and a bowling alley, so this fantastic shopping centre offers plenty of entertainment options! While the bus does run out to Cribbs Causeway from Bristol City Center, it’s generally a driving destination, with ample parking and proximity to the M5.
The Best Vintage Stores in Bristol
There are hundreds of quirky independent retailers in Bristol, and vintage stores are some of the finest examples. Drawing from the histories of Bristol’s outstanding electronic music scene of the 90s or curating some of the best 60s and 70s threads, these vintage stores have you covered.
This stalwart vintage emporium has been selling the most interesting used threads out of their Gloucester Road shop since 1995. Their staff certainly has an eye for what’s cool, and what will be cool, which explains why RePsycho has such an enduring reputation amongst Bristol fashionistas, rockers, and hipsters. The owners have been an integral part of the UK vintage fashion scene for as long as just about everyone. They were selling vintage threads from the 60s and 70s before “vintage fashion” was even a common term (or business model, for that matter). They cater to just about all budgets, with some high-end pieces that you won’t find anywhere else, as well as some threads that are perfect for your next rock show or dance party. Even better, there is a second-hand record section in the basement catering to all genres. RePsycho was set up so that just about anyone can walk into their store, spend a few pounds, and walk out the coolest person on their street.
Formerly known as Dutty, this vintage store has been a Bristol fashion and cultural institution since the early aughts. That Thing has one of the coolest origin stories, having been founded by a group of Bristol’s best electronic DJs. Located on the fashionable Stokes Croft street, you can find a wide array of used streetwear and trendy vintage threads. The aesthetic draws heavily from 90s fashion and has a hip feel that’s suitable for the store’s musical background. Think retro tracksuits, bucket hats, and baggy pants. Trust us… These things are all coming back into fashion! Everything at That Thing is in impeccable shape and offered at reasonable prices.
This upbeat stall in St. Nicholas Market is run by an expert team with a serious eye for vintage fashion. The owner-operator is one of the founding members of the RePsycho vintage institution, and they certainly bring the expertise to his smaller but high-quality operation. The racks are incredibly well-organized and presented, so it’s an easy collection to sift through. At Urban Fox, there is minimal rummaging or endless searching; everything is placed so that you can find what you’re looking for with the minimum amount of effort.
This store is known both for its curation of vintage streetwear and artwork. Don Major is another retailer focusing on 90s sportswear, hip-hop and dance culture, and other aesthetics that are bursting back into fashion. You’ll find everything from classic Ralph Lauren and Levi’s Jeans, to some one-of-a-kind denim jackets, and handmade tees. There is a focus on rarity, exclusivity, and quality at Don Majors. This isn’t a flea market stall that is hoping to sell you an ironic t-shirt; Don Majors is trying to help you find your next statement piece for the music festival or party you’re attending. The prices are reasonable, and the quality standards are hard to beat!
The Coolest Bristol Streets for Shopping
This road winds up the hill from Bristol Shopping Quarter in a defiant manner. This is the street where the quirky independent retailers, cafes, vegan restaurants, and hipster bars hold sway. The type of store that thrives on Gloucester Road is the antithesis of Cabot Circus or The Arcade. Things are a little edgier in this part of town, and the clientele certainly fits.
Thousands of University Students, hipsters, and trendy shoppers flock to Gloucester Road in search of vintage threads, bespoke home decor, and well-made lattes every weekend. There is a strong social justice and fair trade emphasis in this neighborhood’s culture. You will find sustainable clothing and home goods, as well as ethically-sourced jewelry and fabrics.
If you’re young and interested in what’s trendy, Gloucester Road is worth dedicating an entire day to explore. The shopping is amazing, but the cafe, restaurant, and nightlife scenes on Gloucester Road are just as important. Cute third-wave coffee roasters, craft breweries, and a myriad of excellent restaurants line the street, which makes a full-day shopping spree a little more sustainable. This is the perfect destination for city centre visitors who prefer to “live like a local” when they visit a city.
Park Street and Clifton Village
Known primarily for the superb Georgian architecture that lines the street, this charming stretch has a number of independent boutiques and art galleries that appeal to a fashionable clientele. Most of these stores are quirky but approachable, and there is a strong emphasis on the small business ethic here. Vintage stores are common and independent boutiques from local designers call Park Street home as well. Book stores and record shops are other common sights along this pleasant stretch of road.
It’s not hard to find Park Street, given that it links Bristol City Centre with Clifton. Bristol Cathedral is also nearby, so there is a fun detour full of old buildings to explore. College Green is a sunny park that’s perfect for stopping and enjoying an afternoon. Regardless of your shopping goals, this is a pleasant street for an afternoon stroll. Window shopping doesn’t get any better than Park Street, and the surrounding area is as scenic as you get.
Clifton Arcade is another must-visit part of the area. This stylish corridor features dozens of shops selling everything from homeware to vintage clothing. This is also one of the best places to shop for handmade jewelry. All these shops are housed in a restored Victorian-era shopping arcade. It’s as charming a shopping experience you can get anywhere in Bristol.
Being about a mile and a half from Bristol City Centre, it’s best to do some research to take advantage of the numerous restaurants located alongside these upscale boutiques. This neighborhood is perfect for grabbing brunch, taking a stroll along the leafy streets, and going on a shopping spree!
Located along Bristol’s wharfs, this market is housed in structures that have been converted from shipping containers. It’s a floating neighborhood in a sense, and easily the most unique shopping experience in all of Bristol. You’ll find a wide variety of street food vendors, and quirky independent shops selling everything from designer clothing to knick-knacks you’ll want to bring home.
Almost everything in this vibrant shopping quarter is from a local producer and business. Whether it’s handmade jewelry, home decor, art, or vintage clothing, it’s brought to you by a passionate Bristol local. The prime location also allows you to explore the surrounding streets as well as prominent landmarks like the SS Great Britain Museum.
Christmas Steps Arts Quarter
It’s an easy assumption that the historic Christmas Steps are a seasonal attraction, but this scenic pathway is a constant fixture in the Bristol shopping scene. You’ll find everything from gift shops to tattoo parlors. Many of the stores are independently owned and operated, so you don’t have to worry about too many familiar high street favourites and international chains you can find just about anywhere else.
Bristol’s Old City is a must-see tourist area filled with winding alleys, charming old buildings, and countless landmarks that are worth stopping by. Regardless of whether you’re looking to buy anything, stop by the Christmas Steps for a selfie or family photo!
Whatever you’re looking for, Bristol’s incredible shopping scene has you covered. So grab a brunch, plan your route, and let Bounce take care of the bags while you go on your unforgettable shopping spree in Bristol!