Leeds has an impressive shopping pedigree. The city made its mark on the retail scene in 1884, when Michael Marks opened a Penny Bazaar at Leeds Kirkgate Market. His simple stall was a massive success. When he partnered with Tom Spencer, the famous Marks & Spencer’s brand was born. The town’s status as a shopping mecca was sealed in 1996 when the luxury department store Harvey Nichols chose the city as the location for its first store outside London.
Retail settings range from historic Victorian arcades and glitzy malls, to quirky boutiques and independent studios. Designer brands like Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton have outlets in Leeds, and many of the big-name chains are represented. Keeping the spirit of Michael Marks alive, stall owners still ply their trade in bustling street markets.
Here’s our rundown of some of the best shopping in Leeds, and don’t forget to use Uber to help you carry all those shopping bags.
The Victorian Quarter
The Victorian Quarter, the upscale shopping zone located between Briggate and Vicar Lane, was originally designed by Frank Matcham around turn of the 19th century. Main spots include Queen Victoria Street and the Cross and County Arcades, where ornamental façades, glass, and Art Nouveau mosaics abound. The Victorian Quarter is home to designer brands including Karen Millen, Louis Vuitton, Paul Smith, and Vivienne Westwood. Think high-end shopping in a sumptuous and historic setting.
Epitomising 21st-century cool, Trinity Leeds is a contemporary mall with airy halls and an enormous glass roof. The mall contains more than 120 fashion and lifestyle outlets, including famous names like H&M, Mango, Oasis, and Warehouse. You can also take a break in one of the forty restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The trendy Trinity Kitchen zone features street food vans selling everything from burritos and tacos, to ribs and England’s favourite: fish and chips.
Leeds Kirkgate Market
The buzzing Kirkgate Market is overflowing with products like fresh flowers, clothes, and local foods. There are over 400 stalls packed into this attractive Victorian building, and it’s one of Europe’s largest covered markets. In fact, there’s many stalls that have been in the same family for generations. There’s a regular schedule of speciality events, including a Farmers’ Market, an Asian Bazaar, and flea markets. If you like your shopping colourful and vibrant, then is the spot for you. Bargain hunters will also be delighted.
Leeds Corn Exchange
This is the go-to destination for vintage shopping and quirky boutiques. The Leeds Corn Exchange is housed in a distinctive Victorian structure with a domed roof. The vibe is creative and independent, and the focus is on hip fashion, independent beauty studios, and specialist health products. Pick up a groovy bag, a pair of 1950s shoes, a handmade candle—or even a drum kit. Try a new look by paying a visit to a funky hairdresser, nail artist, or tattooist.
The Grand Arcade
The Grand Arcade is one of the oldest shopping arcades in Leeds. The original Victorian building was renovated in 2013 to create a trendy new space for independent shops and eateries. Architectural details here include a glass roof, exposed beams, and picturesque arches. The stores inside are many and varied, and you can take your pick from cool fashion pieces, specialist shaving products, world coffee, wedding gowns, and much more.