“ City streets, markets, shopping malls, large retail parks... „
When I moved to Weston Super Mare three years ago one of things I never really thought about was the shops and shopping! I moved to be closer to my best friend who ran a pub there at the time (who has since left to go to Reading) and to have a fresh start and to live with a mate and share a flat.
It wasn't long after that, that I realised what a nightnare shopping was in Weston Super Mare and it was only when I needed stuff for the flat and a few bits and pieces for me I realised and it was all a bit too late then!
First off Weston is a town and not a city. We have a main town centre which basically consists of a high street with about 30 shops if that on it. In the three years I have lived in Weston shops have closed on a weekly basis leaving us with less to choose from than back then even and then there are a couple of streets off that with a few shops that tend to be independent stores in the main apart from a Holland & Barrett which is just out the centre but still connected sort of thing.
So what do we have? Well we have a Marks and Spencers which isn't huge, a decent sized BHS and a New Look, Whs Smiths, Boots Superdrug and Accesorise. We have numerous phone shops, coffee shops a Mcdonalds and a Burger King along with absolutely loads of charity shops, a couple of butchers and a couple of green grocers. We have the Sovereign centre with not alot in apart from Bon Marche and a cd/dvd shop called Head, Claires and just recently we lost Past Times, Zizzis (an independent nik nak sort of shop) and Julian Greaves (I think it was called). We do have a really good Wilkinsons in there but there is a lack of food shops around and about with just a local Tesco Metro and a Tesco main store local to the centre.
We do have Poundland, The 99p shop and the Works as well and just recently a rather large Proper Job opened which again is a shop with a bit of allsorts on it and for all your home needs Mckays is brilliant, again still int he centre of town opposite where the Dolphin complex is which is being revamped but I have no idea what is being put there yet!
The centre is pedestrianized, there are plenty of bus routes around the centre and a taxi rank and its all pretty wheelchair friendly and usually rather clean and tidy with lots of flowers and greenery about. Weekends are busy as anything, particularly in the summer of course with in the centre amusement arcades and the likes and the pier close by.
If your relying on the centre for all your needs I think you'd be disappointed to be honest however if you live in Weston and use buses or have access to a car then it isn't so bad with lots or retail areas close by where there is Pets At Home, B & M, Dunelm and the likes which has saved my bacon on many of an occasion!
I am moving from Weston back to Coventry mid February and for shopping alone I will be relieved to move back to a city centre I have to admit. I can't wait to get in Primark and the likes whihc really is missed in Weston and people often can be heard about the lack of a Primark!
If you want to shop my advice is to give Weston Super Mare a miss there are much better local places to spend your cash such as Cribbs Causeway down the road and Bristol or even Taunton!
The places to go shopping in Weston-super-Mare can be divided into three areas, the High Street, the back streets and retail parks.
The High Street is a pedestrianised area with around 40 shops, these being mainly typical big name stores with a selection of cafes mixed in. The biggest store is Marks and Spencer with BHS not far behind. As usual, there's an awful lot of mobile phone shops and the ubiquitous Poundland (occupying a former Woolworths). There's a bank at either end as well as in the middle so you don't have far to go for a cashpoint. Other well-known stores include The Works, Brighthouse, GAME, Boots, Milletts and WH Smiths. In the past there have been more than this but with the recession biting, a few big names have disappeared. Adjacent to the High Street, there's an indoor shopping precinct called the Sovereign Centre. In here, there's a few more named stores, H Samuels, Body Shop, Savers, Waterstones, Wilkinsons and an Animal store plus others. There's also a discount CD/DVD shop where HMV used to be. There is a multi-storey car park backing onto the centre which is probably the most expensive place to park in Weston (other than the sea-front in the summer). Food choices are either a deli at one end or Burger King at the other.
Occasionally there are craft fairs and events at the Wintergardens which is a building facing the seafront that can be accessed through the end of the centre nearest to Burger King. It's worth checking out as these are rarely advertised well.
At the Pier end of the high street, there's a MacDonalds, New Look and Superdrug plus a few smaller shops trailing towards Dolphin Square. Heading away from the Pier, there's a Post Office and eventually the Odeon cinema which looks terrible from the outside but is actually quite good within, having been upgraded with decent seats and digital sound. The opposite end of the High street leads to the Boulevard which is mainly estate agents and restaurants although there's a great little hardware shop that sells all sorts plus some gift shops along here which are worth checking out.
In summary, the High Street has lost a lot of shops over the last few years and is lacking in variety, especially if you're clothes shopping. A new development is being created in Dolphin Square but as yet, no retailers have committed to it although there are plenty of chain restaurants ready to move in. Parking anywhere nearby works out at around £1 an hour, although the seafront during summer months (designated as 1st March to end October) will cost you £7 if you go over 4 hours so I would avoid this if you can.
At the end of the High Street, towards the Grand Pier, turning left past the large 'spring onion' monument, there's a number of smaller retailers hidden away. Down this road there's a Holland and Barrett which signifies the last of the chain stores. Beyond here there's a comic and film memorabilia shop, a craft shop, a place selling camping and hiking gear, somewhere for tattoos, a psychic bookshop, a pet supplies shop, a model shop and a few other quirky gift type places. It's worth a stroll down here as I don't think all visitors to Weston will realise what's on offer. And you're supporting local businesses too.
Lastly, the retail parks. As you come off the motorway at J21, the first area you would pass is on the right and contains a Morrisons, Matalan and Boots. There's also a Subway, Costa Coffee and Dominos with a Sue Ryder charity shop tucked away at the end.
Further down the A370, is the Aisecombe Way retail park. Here there's an enormous B&Q, Aldi, Carpetright, Comet and a Sports Direct. Also, recently opened is a Costa Coffee and a Frankie and Bennys. There's plenty of parking here but it does get busy at weekends.
Beyond here, the A370 meets a big roundabout and this is the last retail park area. Based around the Winterstoke road one-way system, there's a large number of retailers. In the centre is The Range, Dunhelm Mill, Home Bargains, Wickes and a British Heart Foundation furniture charity shop. Across the road are PC World, Currys, Staples, Pets at Home and some carpet and tile places. Pretty much all the big retailers you might expect and a Gala Bingo if you really have to indulge. On the other side of the retail park is Asda, there's a Next tucked in next door and a Mothercare around the back. For munchies, there's a Pizza Hut and drive through McDonalds nearby and a drive through KFC next to PC World.
If you live in Weston, there's a good selection for most things but I find that clothes shopping is a bit restrictive and it's better to head up the motorway to Cribbs Causeway. This also has the benefit of offering free parking, something that's set to become a thing of the past in Weston when the council introduces on-street charging later this year.
If you're down here on a day out and like to browse the shops, then there's plenty of choice. For residents, the shortcomings become clear after a while and you have to travel further afield for a better choice. Cribbs Causeway is the obvious destination with Clarkes Village also worth a visit. If you have the time and your legs can stand it, Bristol's Broadmead shopping area should fulfill all your needs.