With the opening of Liverpool ONE, the city’s retail axis lurched a little to the south. Its once mighty shopping boulevard, Church Street/Lord Street started to relinquish its grip on the city’s shoppers. But a concerted effort by the City Central BID team has seen much investment, and new life in the old streets yet.
Church Street is still home to a huge Marks and Spencer, H&M, River Island and Top Shop/Man and, opposite the Clayton Square shopping mall you’ll find the chaotic racks of TK Maxx. New developments include a decent outpost of the Cotswold outdoorsy shop, and a soon-to-be-launched branch of price-conscious American fashion chain, Forever 21 (corner of Church Street, Whitechapel)
Clayton Square – a post-modern shopping centre of the kind that were very popular in the late 80s and early 90s – is a shadow of its former self, hobbled by the vast range of shopping at nearby Liverpool One and relatively unglamourous surroundings. You’ll still find the city’s largest Boots, the addictive Swedish homewares and oddments store, Clas Ohlson, Wallis and Body Shop however.
St John’s Precinct is a drab-yet-busy 60’s shopping centre, replete with pound shops and with a rather sad-looking market at its core. But it’s worth a look for cheap sportswear, gifts and accessories – and the many food stalls are where you can find some of the city’s best butchers and grocers.
Lord Street is currently home to a large BHS (for how much longer is open to debate) French Connection, Rococo Tea Rooms (good lunches, 61 Lord Street) – and, at its far end, the impressive Queen Victoria Monument (1807) at Derby Square, built on the site of the city’s original castle.
Whitechapel, leading on to the Met Quarter, finds room for the UK’s largest Lush Spa, (9-11 Whitechapel) offering new age treatments designed to perk up mind, body and soul (for a price). Further along, the Pop Boutique (58 Whitechapel) offers day-glo retro clothes from the 50’s to the 70’s, and Tony and Guy (28 Whitechapel) is always busy with the rollers and GHDs.
Something of a Liverpool institution, the Lobster Pot chippy (‘the Lobby’) (22 Whitechapel) is your best bet for a fish and chip fix.
Cavern Walks, bordering the edge of Liverpool’s acknowledged Beatles territory on Matthew Street, is a boutique fashion- and beauty-orientated shopping centre with the excellent Weaver’s Door and Cricket outlets.
Bold Street represents the city’s soul, with quirky, independent shops nestling alongside more offbeat chains such as Forbidden Planet and sneaker-porn specialist Size?. Its two landmark bookshops – Dillon’s and Waterstones – are both gone and much lamented but News From Nowhere, the radical bookshop, is still going strong.
There’s plenty of good choices if your gut’s rumbling, with Italian Club, Miyagi, Mowgli and Nolita Cantina all offering excellent food. Bold Street Coffee and Leaf offer caffeine fixes and a great place to hang out respectively. There’s also Matta’s – an Asian food supermarket that’s worth browsing just for its unlikely sights and smells alone.
The Albert Dock is further afield but still easy to reach from Liverpool city centre – if you’re a tourist and desperate for a fridge magnet, ice-cream or wonky portrait of John Lennon it’s your best bet.