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5 top picks for the best shopping experience in Southampton

Southampton is not only the main boarding point for cruise ships in the UK, but also one of the go-to places for shopping on the south coast of England. Coming to the city, you’ll discover a wide range of shopping options from the market stalls to high-street chains.

Southampton’s top shopping destinations are all located in the city centre, and you can explore them on foot. Within a compact area, you’ll find the Westquay shopping centre, The Marlands shopping centre and West Quay Retail Park. Besides, there’s the bustling City Centre Market and the anticipated annual Christmas Market.

Want to know more about shopping in Southampton? Look no further, here’s a compilation of the top 5 destinations. They are all in the city centre. Each offers a unique shopping experience for you to enjoy. On top of that, there are plenty of dining options to spoil you with choices. Without further ado, let’s delve into the guide.

Westquay Shopping Centre

Westquay shopping centre in Southampton, England.
Westquay | JimChampion

Westquay is the largest shopping centre in Southampton, consisting of Westquay North and Westquay South. This indoor mall boasts 2 expansive floors of retail and a food terrace on the upper floor. All in all, there are over 80 retail and nearly 40 dining outlets. In addition, there’s a state-of-the-art cinema and a bowling alley.

This indoor mall is located on the west side of Harbour Parade and local buses stop near the main entrance. Coming here by car, there’s a multi-level car park (fees apply) entering via Harbour Parade. Disabled parking is on several levels. There are also 8 free charging points for electric-driven cars on level 5.

Westquay attracts nearly 19 million visitors each year. Department store chain John Lewis is an anchor tenant here and there’s something for everyone from fashion to home items. Marks & Spencer is another anchor tenant and large department store, stocking a huge range of items besides clothing.

Among the leading fashion brands is Boss, with its sophisticated range of clothing and accessories. Tommy Hilfiger offers chic American-designed clothing, shoes, bags and accessories. H&M specialises in fast-fashion clothing. Levis offers its famous jeans as well as casual wear. Other notable fashion brands include Crew, Hollister and Zara.

Inside Westquay shopping centre in Southampton, England.
Inside Westquay Shopping Centre | ITookSomePhotos

Footlocker and Schuh stock a wide selection of footwear by leading brands that include Nike, Adidas, New Balance and Jordan to name a few. Skechers offers its own designer label of comfortable footwear from sandals to boots. Dune also carries its own label of stylish shoes for both men and women.

Visit Ernest Jones, H Samuel and Goldsmith for watches and jewellery in various stylish designs. For health and beauty products, check out The Perfume Shop, The Body Shop and Rituals. LEGO has a huge selection of plastic brick sets. And there’s the Apple Store for MacBooks, iPhones, iPads and a host of Apple accessories.

The Showcase Cinema de Lux is a cutting-edge multi-screen cinema. It uses laser projections on the screens and Dolby Atmos to give the best image and sound quality. Hollywood Bowl features 16 state-of-the bowling lanes. Not only that, the bowling alley has an American-style diner and lots of fun-filled arcade games.

Feeling peckish? You’ll find a wide choice of cafés and restaurants including fast food. Cuisines include Greek, Italian, Mexican, South American, Japanese and Thai. The all-you-can-eat buffet at Cosmo will spoil you with over 150 dishes from around the world. Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, KFC, Nando’s, Subway and Costa Coffee are also here.

The Marlands Shopping Centre

The Marlands | Paul Gillett

The Marlands is another shopping centre in Southampton and also an indoor mall. Opened in 1991, it was the largest in the city until overtaken by Westquay in 2000. Though only a fifth of the size of Westquay, don’t leave Marlands out. The 2-floor shopping centre has its own unique stores and distinct flavour.

From Westquay, it’s a short walk to get here. Local buses stop beside Marlands on Civic Centre Road and Portland Terrace. Coming by car, the nearest is the multi-level car park (operated by the city council) adjacent to the ASDA supermarket. From the car park, it’s a hop across Portland Terrace to Marlands.

Though Marlands is never as busy as Westquay, it does have its own loyal crowd. Unlike Westquay, where high-street favourites reign, Marlands is a mix of high-street and independent retailers. There are 50 stores here and they are worth checking out. Not only that, there’s a nice selection of 10 cafés and restaurants.

You’ll discover a wide selection of things to buy at Marlands. There’s ample fashion to explore ranging from streetwear to formal suits. Other fashion staples include shoes, accessories and jewellery. You’re also in the right place for health and beauty products, health foods, thoughtful gifts, phone accessories and sweet treats.

Inside The Marlands shopping centre in Southampton, England
The Marlands | Alex Liivet

Moss Bros is a specialist in men’s clothing offering from casual wear to formal suits. Blue Inc offers affordable men’s fashion from several labels. At Lillie’s and Romans, you can find a range of affordable women’s fashion. Shoe Boutique is a family-run business providing fashionable footwear at wallet-friendly prices.

Looking for jewellery and watches? For quality and affordability, Warren James offers jewellery while F Hind carries both jewellery and watches. Almagrove specialises in fine jewellery and luxury watches from only prestigious brands. If you’re looking for lower prices, Est 1897 offers pre-owned high-quality jewellery and luxury timepieces.

One Below is a discount store carrying varieties of items that start from £1, providing great value. Savers is another discount store, selling health and beauty products, household goods, fragrances, food and drink. Timpson provides repair services for shoes, watches and mobile phones as well as dry cleaning and engraving services.

You’ll never go hungry at Marlands with 10 cafés and restaurants to choose from. JRC Global Buffet offers all-you-can-eat dishes from around the world. Vida serves tasty fish and chips, pies, sandwiches, wraps and burgers. Stakks serves lovely pancakes and Shakeaway milkshakes. Starbucks and Costa are also here with their usuals.

West Quay Retail Park

West Quay Retail Park | Lewis Clarke

West Quay Retail Park is another premier shopping destination in Southampton. It’s styled as an out-of-town retail park, but right in the heart of the city. Don’t confuse shopping at “West Quay” and shopping at “Westquay”. West Quay is the retail park while Westquay is the indoor shopping mall.

You’ll find the retail park located on the west side of Harbour Parade. It’s opposite Westquay and next door to the mammoth-size IKEA furniture store. Local buses stop nearby, providing easy access to visitors. There’s ample on-site parking, with over 700 parking bays that include allotted spots for the disabled.

West Quay has just over 10 stores, far fewer than Westquay and Marlands. But each store at the retail park is a warehouse-size outlet, larger than the stores at other shopping centres in Southampton. With the bigger space, you’ll find a very large selection at each store in West Quay.

Stores here include Matalan, a leading retailer of quality fashion from clothes to shoes. You can also find home items for the bedroom, living room and kitchen. Prices here are up to half compared to many high-street stores. At Mamas & Papas, you can shop for a range of baby products like clothing, cribs, pushchairs and bedding.

Furniture Village at West Quay Retail Park | Hugh Venables

Furniture Village offers high-quality furniture for the home and garden. There are also accessories for the home including mirrors, rugs, clocks and vases. Curry’s is popular for its wide range of consumer electronics and white goods. Items include computers, PC games, mobile phones, ovens and air fryers but you’ll discover a lot more.

JD Sports offers sports fashion from top brands like Nike, Puma and Jordan. Items on sale include sweatshirts, hoodies, T-shirts and shoes. Decathlon has a vast array of sports gear including bikes, skateboards, backpacks and tents. There are also sports clothing and footwear at prices that won’t break the bank.

Poundland is a variety store, popular for its big discounts and many are for only £1! The store carries an eclectic mix including foods and drinks, health and beauty products, phone accessories, clothes and much more. For more low prices, check out Wilko for a wide range of items for the home including the kitchen and garden.

Boots carries an array of health and beauty products, fragrances, toiletries and grooming tools. To stretch your budget further, The Food Warehouse offers bigger packs for better prices. Argos has over 60,000 products online from clothes to mobile phones. Not only can you pick up your online order here but also order in-store.

Southampton City Centre Market

Market stalls near the Bargate in Southampton, England
Southampton City Centre Market | Paul Gillett

The Southampton City Centre Market is the largest outdoor market in the city. You’ll find the market situated between two iconic landmarks: the medieval Bargate and the bustling Westquay shopping centre. Market days are Fridays (from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM) and Saturdays (from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM) starting in early spring until October.

This outdoor market boasts an eclectic mix of 50 stalls, run by local vendors who bring their unique products to the tables. The vendors include both casual and long-term traders, who’ve been here for many years. With an evolving array of vendors each week, there are always new and exciting stalls to explore.

This market is a must-visit. Whether you’re a seasoned bargain hunter or just out for a stroll, the market offers a unique and memorable experience. Be sure to sample some of the tasty street food on offer. The market area is closed to traffic. So, enjoy your time wandering and exploring the stalls.

You’ll find a treasure trove of summer bargains and there’s something for everyone. Here, you can find T-shirts and loose pants to flowy dresses and trendy tank tops. There are also a host of accessories like costume jewellery, sunglasses, wallets and purses. Not to mention stylish handbags, tote bags, backpacks and chic sling bags.

Market stalls near the Bargate in Southampton, England
Market stalls on the south end of Above Bar Street | Robin Stott

For the home, you can find bed covers, bed sheets, rugs, potted plants and cut flowers. For the sweet tooth, look out for traditional sweets like lollipops, fudge and gummy sweets. Tourist souvenirs are other items to look for. You can even get your watch repaired and buy mobile phone accessories at one of the stalls.

The market is a haven for tasty street food. With the variety of choices, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your taste buds. Don’t worry about eating on the go or taking your food to eat elsewhere. There are seats and tables in a small corner of the market where you can relax and savour your meal.

Foods from the stalls include hearty gourmet burgers, hot dogs and sub rolls served with fillings of your choice. Or, try the Greek gyros served with pita bread stuffed with meat and vegetable fillings. There are also falafels, pasta dishes and lovely homemade brownies. To wash it down, order the slushy drinks with your choice of flavours.

Southampton Christmas Market

Christmas Market in Southampton, England.
Southampton Christmas Market | Colin Smith

The Southampton Christmas Market is a month-long event leading to Christmas. In 2022, the festival took place from 17 November to 24 December. The market is inspired by the Christmas markets in Germany that have been going on for centuries. And in Southampton, it attracts a huge crowd of locals and visitors each year.

The city’s Christmas market is located on Above Bar Street and opens daily from 10 AM to 8 PM. Over 40 charming wooden alpine-style stalls, decked out in holiday decor, fill the market. The stalls are run by independent traders who offer a delightful mix of Christmas shopping and tasty treats that are sure to please everyone

Evenings are the best time to come when colourful Christmas lights twinkle to add to the holiday cheer. Besides, there’s free live music from 5 PM till 7 PM. Children will love the various rides, especially the traditional horse carousel. And there’s an ice skating rink outside the Westquay shopping centre.

With the array of stalls, there’s something for every Christmas shopper. You’ll find all sorts of home decorations for the festive season like string lights, mistletoe, wreaths, scented candles, stockings and tree toppers. There’s also an assortment of ornaments and figurines in various shapes and styles.

Christmas Market in Southampton, England.
The Christmas market at night | Colin Smith

Gift items to look for include arts and crafts, wooden toys, glassware, cute mugs and handmade soap. Not to mention gift hampers with an assortment of food items packed in a basket. For jewellery, there are earrings, bracelets and pendants in various designs. And for clothing, you can find socks, gloves, scarves, hats and dresses.

The variety of foods will certainly spoil you with choices. There are sweet treats like candied fruits, homemade brownies and gingerbread hearts. You can also pick and mix an assortment of English fudge. Other sugary treats include tempting creamy doughnuts and fried churros. Or try the crepes with your choice of sweet fillings.

For those looking for a meal, there are plenty of options. An annual staple is a bratwurst, a heavily seasoned German sausage. Another popular dish is the Chicken schnitzel, enjoyed with potatoes or served in a crusty roll with salad. The Yorkshire pudding wrap filled with meat, vegetables and thick gravy is another perfect option.