“ City streets, markets, shopping malls, large retail parks... „
Birmingham is a great day out for shopping. There are so many shops to suit everyone at Birmingham. Starting with the bullring. It is massive and like most indoor shopping centres has all your usual suspect of shops only most of them are bigger than in smaller shopping centres. The only drawback for some people is how busy it is but for me that just adds to the experience. As someone who used to live in London I miss shopping down the busy Oxford Street and this is the closest I get. There are so many fashion shops to choose from in the Bullring including Selfridges which is an experience in itself with a massive foodhall with some great restaurants. It also has the most fab sweet section so whatever you do - do not take the kids in here if you don't want to break the bank! Outside of the bullring there is New Street. This is just a long street with many more shops on. Some usual highstreet shops such as Jane Norman and Oasis and then some designed shops such as Ted Baker. They then have some boutiques which are lovely to go into. There are also a number of restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and fast food joints if you get peckish whilst shopping. There is also a Primark here and I have never seen one so big, however it is always busy and the queues are massive! It is easy to get to Birmingham and I personally recommend going on the train as New Street Station is right outside the bullring and New Street shopping. However, if you do choose to drive there are plenty of cheapish parking places - £5 for a day for example and lets be honest if you are shopping big style which is hard not to do in Birmingham it is nice to have the car to load everything into it rather than taking it all on a train. Outside of Birmingham there is also the Jewellery Quarter. I have only been here once but WOW! There are the more upmarket shops which are more like boutiques - most of which are independant and they have some lovely pieces at reasonable prices. You then have the cheaper stores which to me is what the Jewellery Quarter is about. There are so many shops and some do the same thing. They all have a great variety of Jewellery from everyday necklaces, bracelets and rings to something a little more special - Diamonds galore!! If you are thinking of getting engaged pop here to have a look and the best thing is you can barter them down but if you don't fancy that then pop into the boutiques for something a little different. Wedding rings are another good reason to go here as they have so many to choose from and for a good price. I did not know about this place when I got married 7 years ago but I wish I had as I found my exact ring (I purchased for a ridiculous amount of money) for half the price. I am trying to convince my husband that I need even more jewellery so that he can take me here - although I fear that I will still spend a fortune!
Shopping-it can be a disaster which lives you overdrawn and depressed, or it can be a joyful experience which you remember with glee. Birmingham has an abundance of shops, shopping centres and retail parks, so if you like shopping you are in for a treat. If you like designer clothes and have dosh to splash, a Harvey Nicks store opened last year in the new Mailbox complex which you can find behind New Street Station. Also try the Burlington arcade and the many side streets off New Street to find small boutiques and big names like Red or Dead, Diesel and Versace. You have all of the ordinary mainstream shops as in any city such as M+S and the department stores. In the city centre there are 2 HMV's and all of the shops you would expect to find like Gap, Woolworths and WHSmith. Recently opened is a flagship city centre Sainsburys store which seems to be very crowded at weekends (mostly with young people trying to buy booze as there are very few off licences in the city centre!). This is in Martineax Square. The House Of Fraser department store, Rackhams, is on Corporation Street and consists of five floors of luxury home furnishings, designer clothes, and (on the ground level) orange faced ladies trying to spray perfume on you. It is a good idea to go here before a night out and test out the most expensive perfume so you smell lovely (and rich) all night. Not that *I* would do that... *Clothes* For teenagers and young people, there are all the usual shops- Miss Selfridge, H+M, Top Shop and Bay to name a few. You can find a Pilot store in the Pallasades shopping centre. I like this store because the sizes actually fit, there is a 10% student discount and the clothes are quite cheap. If you are a bit of a Sharon, shop in Go Bananas or Ice, both in the pallasades, which are cheap shops selling things like tight yellow jeans and nasty polyester white tops at very cheap prices. The sizes come up very small and the clothes normally shrink in the wash so be warned. If this sounds like your kind of thing, you could also go to Hypnotic, a horrible shop in the Oasis market. All of the clothes are £5.99 (with good reason), they always play garage music, it is crowded and always full of 15 year olds with pushchairs blocking the aisles. But still, that may be your scene! For clothes that are a bit different but not *too* expensive, try Cult Clothing on Stephenson Street or any of the shops under the ramp which sell nice one off shirts and T shirts. *Music* All the mainstream record shops are in Birmingham, such as HMV, Virgin and Tower records. If you are into RnB music there is a specialist shop beneath the ramp (behind Dillons book store) called Sonic records. You can try Reddington Rare records or Dance Music Exchange in Digbeth, near the coach station. These are huge record stores, Reddingtons is for indie and alternative music and Dance Music Exchange for all genres of dance music and equipment. There is also Swordfish records, on Castle Street, leading up to the cathedral. You can buy concert and local gig tickets here as well as pick up loads of flyers. You can pick up CD's in here much cheaper than in the mainstream shops so a visit is well advised (if you can get past the 12 year old grungers). You can also buy cheap CD's on the market (which I will come to later!) *Oasis* Not to be confused with the posh womens clothing shop, Oasis in Birmingham (located at the top of Corporation Street) is a huge store that takes up several underground floors. You can spend hours in there as there is everything from a hair salon (for dreads and mohicans and bright hair colourings, DO NOT go in and ask for "just a trim". You are very likely to come out with green spikes...) to a greasy spoon cafe, to clothes stores. Oasis is basically made up of many little stalls. S ome are for clothes, mainly band tops (generally black hoodies with band names on). I remember saving up my dinner money to buy a Nirvana one when I was 12...My friend did the same, but her Mum burned the offending item as it had the words "MOTHERF*****" on the back. What a waste! You can also buy accessories, bags, CD's, posters (much cheaper than the ones in HMV) and mobile phone cases. Oh, and intriguing things such as miniature scales and bongs...can't think what they could be for though.... *Clubbing Stuff* There is a great clubbing shop in the Arcadian centre (in China Town, towards the markets). I do not know the name I am afraid, for it is only and always referred to as merely "the clubbing shop". In this holy grail you can find such things such as glow in the dark jewellery, tops with flashing lights on and rubber catsuits and bikinis. The prices are quite expensive, but the clothes are so unique. If you like to look individual when out clubbing, take a look at this shop. *Markets* Birmingham is derided nationwide for the state of the Bull Ring centre. Well, guess what all you criticisers? It's not there anymore! Well, kind of. The old, 60's concrete monstrosity has been knocked down and a brand spanking new one (due for completion in a few years ) is being built right now. This makes parts of the city centre look like a giant building site, but I am sure it will be worth it in the end..I miss the bull ring actually, I used to always go there when I skived off school. Most of the shops that were located in the Bull Ring walkway (the one that goes over the road next to the train station) have relocated temporarily to somewhere called the Mayfair centre, accessible through the Pallasades shopping centre. The rag market and indoor markets are worth a visit, especially for fresh food and bathroom things. These markets are located in brand new buildings which are light an d airy so much nicer than the old dark buildings. You can find everything in here from make up to fish (the fish section reeks by the way) to rugs. Just don't buy playstation games there, like my friend did once, as if it doesn't work or cacks up your machine you will have no comeback. *Jewellery* The jewellery Quarter in Birmingham can be reached on the number 8 bus or the metro (from Snow Hill station). This is not just for rich people as there are lots of shops there for all price ranges. You can get engraving done there at very reasonable prices, and have a very nice time looking at all the diamonds. This area is very pleasant and much better to buy individual peices and presents from than H Samuels. *Shopping Areas in general* In recent years, the city centre has been much improved, mostly by banishing cars from the majority of the city centre. No crowded pavements anymore then! There are quite a lot of benches dotted around to rest your weary legs on, and on the whole the city centre is pleasant to shop in. The area around the markets and bus stops are not so nice, as to be expected. If you want to avoid the crowds, go on a weekday morning as Saturdays in town are hell, and lunchtimes also get very busy with all the workers on their lunch break. The one thing that Birmingham really lacks is a green space to sit and relax in. The area around the cathedral used to be popular for this, but railings have been put up to discourage this. In the summer, many people gather around Victoria and Centenary Square which are pleasant with many seating places and fountains. If you are a young girl though, you will get approached by about a million foreign blokes trying to practise their limited grasp of the English language on you. You may enjoy this, you may not. If you want to go somewhere a bit quieter to eat your sandwiches, take a walk to St. Paul's square which has another cathedral with lo ts of green space. Or go to the gardens of peace, behind the Rep theatre. But don't all go there at once, or it won't be peaceful anymore! *Other recommended shops* Packages- Bull Street In Packages you can buy funky cards (furry or ones with jelly babies on, for example), watches (especially trendy Storm ones), room accessories (I have a lovely lampshade in the shape of a star from here that cost only a few pounds). You can also buy rude things like flavoured condoms and fake boobs, if that is your kind of thing! This is a nice shop to browse in and buy gifts that are a little different from the norm. The Pier- Pavillions shopping centre This is a nationwide store with things for the home. It is quite pricey, but the things are lovely and built to last. They sell a chair called a Butterfly chair which is the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in. It costs £100, so if anyone wants to buy it for me, they are welcome! On the whole, I have to reccommend Birmingham for shopping. There is a huge choice of shops, both independent and mainstream, most of which are within walking distance of each other (unlike London). It is easily accessible and the people in the streets are generally friendly and only too happy to point you in the right direction (and probably tell you their life story while they are at it)...
Until last week it has been nearly 20 years since I had been to Birmingham! Wow what a great difference. What has happened to Birmingham. It is great. The Bull ring shopping centre has gone but in its place a whole lot of new shops. We had the week before gone to London to do some shopping and came away nearly empty handed not finding much but in Birmingham all the shops seemed to be close together, so hardly no distance between the shops. This is not being lazy but when you buy a lot and dont want to keep popping back to the car every five minutes it does make a difference. Finding our way into and out of Birmingham was easy. It is well sign posted everywhere. There are boards up showing which shops are in the shopping area you are in. I have never seen such a huge market for meat and fish. There were dozens of stalls for fish. Name a fish and they had it. The clothes were very reasonably priced and already a lot of sales were on. The sales people were very friendly and helpful. Sorry Birmingham, but we were led to believe you were an unfriendly lot! Not so and we were even told that if something didnt fit keep receipt and take it to any branch or even post it back to them and they would send a larger/smaller size. I love birmingham and will go shopping there again but on a warmer day as it was so cold there. Maybe I just went on the wrong day. I hope so!
A great improvement on the face of Birmingham. Anyone who entered the old Bull ring would tell you it was freezing cold, dirty, cramped and wreaked of fish! It was a horrible building which made Birmingham look quite down market. Now that the old ratty Bull ring has gone the new improved BullRing (notice the subtle difference in the spelling) built across the road has taken over in glorious style! Right now there is a huge hole in the middle of the town centre where the old one was, but still it doesn't detract from the pleasing asthetics of the new BullRing and Market as the old builings have been replaced by new, white clean modern builings and having previously worked in the old builing I can honestly say that the improvement cannot be put into words! There are now an extra couple of hundred safe parking spaces in town above the new centre which are well lit and user friendly. The same shops and stalls all moved across the road, allowing the same range of products, but in a much cleaner and friendlier environment (and the fish market doesn't seem to extend it's smell to the whole building anymore!) The facilities have also improved. Almost all the entrances are wheelchair friendly and the tiolets are now safe to enter without fear of catching the plague! New, clean and free of graffitti with doors that actually lock shut again make you feel more safe and confident to enter and shop there. As a teenage girl I personally feel much safer walking round this new Bullring than I ever did in the old one - even working there made me a bit uncomfortable - but now I feel completely safe (maybe because there are now glass windows for walls and a lot more exits!) All the improvements to the building have made it more appealing to shop at the BullRing, and for the range of shops (trinkets to hairdressers to butchers) I can't think of anywhere else with such a range of products available in one place!
I spent 4 years living in Birmingham whilst I was at University, and recently returned for a weekend. The first thing I noticed about the central shopping area was how much it had changed in the 3 years since I had left. The Bullring is gone, and all that is left is a huge hole in the ground, a re-routed road system and a lot of rubble. They're building a new Bullring, and from what I've seen, it's going to be a superb shopping centre and Selfridge's will be moving in to one corner of it. They've torn down another of the shopping arcades in the centre as well - Martineau Square (apologies if I've spelled that wrong), and are re-building that too. Boots has moved into a much larger and more modern store, and a new glass lift has been installed in Waterstones. Gone are the old subways that as students we tried to avoid and instead there are more pedestrianised areas and road crossings. The only down-side that I could find, is that the shopping centre above New Street Station (The Pallasades) has not undergone any modernisation and is looking almost seedy now. There may be plans afoot to reburbish it once the new Bullring is in place, but I have not heard of anything yet. The new look Birmingham city centre is really pulling England's second city into the new millenium. The range of shops is now far superior than a few years ago and rivals the central shopping areas in Cardiff and Reading, both of which I am particularly fond of. Once the building work is completed in a few years time this really will be a shopping area that Birmingham can be proud of.
Shirley Retail Park is just off the Stratford Road in Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands. It's huge and has lots of shops and a massive car park. The shops include: B&Q Comet (a superstore - it's huge) Curry's MFI Furnitureland Harvey's SFC Tempo Mothercare Toys R Us JB Sports Halfords Allied Carpets Homebase and I am sure there are some I have forgotten. If you are a DIY fan then this is the place for you as there are plenty of stores to choose from (flat pack furniture galore, too!). All sorts of shops in the same place makes life a little easier.