Get past the ugliness of Market Street and you’ll find many characterful shopping areas in Manchester, from the hip, laid-back Northern Quarter to the historic architecture of King Street and the ultra-modern district of Spinningfields. While each area is distinct, happily, they’re all within walking distance of each other.
If you’re a music lover, the Northern Quarter is the place for you: find vinyl rarities and detailed staff recommendations at Piccadilly Records on Oldham Street; all kinds of bargains at Vinyl Exchange, and rare soul and grooves at Beatin’ Rhythm. Those looking for unique gifts from local makers should head to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre for ceramics, jewellery, textiles and more from local makers; Richard Goodall Gallery for art prints and gig posters, or Oklahoma for kitsch nonsense and novelty trinkets. Elsewhere, Fred Aldous on Stevenson Square is the city’s biggest art supplies shop, complete with risograph and laser cutting studios, and the style conscious will find lots to rummage through in the NQ’s various vintage shops, including Junk Shop, Retro Rehab and Cow Vintage.
Manchester Arndale is home to all the high street stores, but for the higher end of the high street, head to King Street and Spinningfields (that is, if Selfridges or Harvey Nichols don’t happen to stock what you’re looking for). Also in the Deansgate area, book lovers will be pleased to find the second biggest Waterstones in the UK outside of London’s Piccadilly flagship store, while they’ll certainly be enchanted by the magical surroundings of the city’s newest independent bookstore, Chapter One Books, in the Northern Quarter.
For more boutique shopping and products made by local artisans, head out to the suburbs - Chorlton and Didsbury both have lots of interesting, individual shops nestled among the neighbourhood wine bars and cafes.