For over two decades, Leeds has gained a reputation as the shopping destination of the north. It is often cited that the arrival of Harvey Nichols in 1996 confirmed and kickstarted the city’s rise on the high street, mixing its original character and charm with a shiny modern new look. Since then, the notable injections of all-encompassing shopping centre Trinity and luxurious newcomer Victoria Gate, complete with a giant John Lewis, have kept Leeds city centre known as an attractive experience for a spending spree.

Whilst the aforementioned arrivals undoubtedly propelled Leeds to new consumer heights, it is those around them that have added a unique and diverse personality to the city. Despite concern about the impact of incoming chains and expensive aspirations obliterating independents, the city has in fact expanded to include all, with shops large, medium and small thriving off the back of a general rejuvenation. This is testament to the quality and determination of Leeds’ shops in a current retail climate that requires support to survive.

Indeed, as the increase in online shopping shifts the market, the demise of longstanding national stores has been much publicised. So, for smaller set ups to continue, they must maintain an expertise and innovation that keeps customers loyal. This challenge has been met in Leeds by several specialist shops, from clothing and fashion through music and literature to jewellery and gifts. 

For many, a day of retail therapy means hunting for clothes, and besides famous designer names such as Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood with stores in Leeds’ ornate arcades, there are also local gems: The Hip Store has been trading since 1987 and made such a success of supplying cleverly selected labels of style conscious menswear that they recently moved home to an expansive new three floor space. A more recent arrival to the city also excels in casual cool clothing for men, with All Blues Co. nestling stylishly in Leeds’ stunning independent mecca The Corn Exchange.

Within the concourse of the same building sits Little Pink Wardrobe, a womenswear store with a keen eye and a firm hand in picking fashionista friendly items, from unique specialities to on-trend essentials. And there is even more of an abundance of female fashion to find across the city, including aspirational modern nationals such as & Other Stories and Anthropologie.

Plenty of stores provide both men’s and women’s fashion too, with longstanding Leeds favourite Accent Clothing continuing to bring appealing designers to the city, hipster hangout Lambert’s Yard adding exciting and exclusive lines of upcoming talent at pop-up exhibitions, and a wealth of vintage shops going back in time, from Leeds originals Blue Rinse to retro loving Pop Boutique.

But a day around Leeds’ shops is not all about new threads; one can accessorise them and glam up at any number of jewellers, whether discovering antique gems at Aladdin’s Cave, indulging in luxury at Berry’s, or making it personal with handcrafted beauty at Simcha. These are all popular visits in the run up to Christmas, as too are the city’s gift shops with a difference; the cute and eclectic Our Handmade Collective displays local designers’ wares, and Colours May Vary is your friendly magazine, literature and lifestyle haven.

And there are many more excellent offerings in an array of desirables. For music, two of the finest indies in the country, Jumbo and Crash, continue to flog fabulous records, and are an important part of the city’s scene. Equally adored amongst its loyal visitors is OK Comics, a delightful store that displays all the quirks and passions of its genre. The list goes on…

But not here, otherwise this blog will never end. Many more super stores are worth your time and money all over town, and also into some splendid suburbs. You get the idea. Now let’s spend spend spend!