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Where to find the best independent shopping areas

When it comes to Christmas shopping, we don’t all relish the idea of battling it out in mainstream shops and standing in interminable queues

So, if you’re the kind of shopper who would prefer to take their time and soak up the festive ambiance, while supporting local traders who rely on the Christmas trade to see them through the rest of the year, then our guide to the region’s independent shopping areas is a must-read.

A word to the wise though; with many coffee shops, tea rooms and restaurants dotted between these hidden retail gems, you may want to make a day of it rather than try and rush the experience. Go on, spoil yourself . . . it’s Christmas, after all.

Bold Street, Liverpool

Merseyrail -1

There’s a reason why Bold Street has become the first port of call for independent leisure in the area. Whether it’s for cocktails, international meals or patisseries, you’ll find it all here. . . . but where to head first?

Why not start with The Sweets & Gift Co, where you’ll find everything from retro childhood favourites to American cult classics, then stay with the retro theme at the legendary Dig Vinyl – a haven for any record lover.

Next, take the short journey to Resurrection on the floor to pick up clothes for the fashionista in your life, before moving on to Transalpino, the UK’s No 1 dead stock trainer shop which sources rare trainers, shoes and clothes from all over the world.

Round your trip off with a visit to Shared Earth, a fair trade, eco and ethical company, which sells Christmas scents, decorations, and gifts for pretty much all the family.

Nearest train station: Liverpool Central

Walking distance: One minute

St John’s Road, Waterloo


With pretty much everything you could ever want to be found here, St John’s Road is the perfect place to take a shopping trip if you’d like to support local suppliers this Christmas.

There’s Barnett’s Wholefoods, where you can find vegan cheeses, chocolates, and shampoo and conditioning bars that would make perfect presents for the environmentally conscious, or maybe The Little Macaron Shop for a special Christmas Day dessert or macaron gifts.

At Florence and Fox you’ll find original handmade gifts by local artists, cards, prints and original artwork. Juno, meanwhile is great for sustainable clothing, handmade jewellery, crystals, gems and incense and accessories and there are a wide selection of scarves and handbags at Ruby Blue Lane.

When you’re done, wash it all down with some food and drink at Peaberry Coffee House, which does a great selection of breakfasts and lunches.

Nearest train station: Waterloo

Walking distance: 10 minutes

Baltic Triangle, Liverpool


One of the region’s, if not the country’s coolest hangouts, the Baltic Triangle is filled with quirky shops and eateries where you can indulge in some Christmas shopping while also supporting the city’s independents.

Men’s wardrobes can be topped up at SEVENSTORE on Norfolk Street, which stocks brands including Off-White, Acne Studies, Adidas and 1017 ALYX 9SM; and Moretti Menswear on St James Street, where you’ll find Fendi, DSquared2, Dior and Canada Goose.

The highly acclaimed Dorothy on Jordan Street is a real find, with conceptual prints, products and artwork to suit most tastes, while older art, as well as furniture and vintage clothes, can be found at Red Brick Vintage in Cains Brewery Village.

For more gift inspiration, head to Red Brick Hangar, sibling to Red Brick Vintage and also in Cains Brewery Village. Here you’ll find a feast of festive present ideas, from over 50 independent traders offering everything from vinyl and household goods to sweet treats so tempting, you’ll probably end up eating them yourself.

Nearest station: Liverpool Central

Walking distance: Approx 20 minutes

Bluecoat, Liverpool


For a shopping trip designed to bring out your inner culture vulture, the Bluecoat is hard to beat.

As if a trip to the oldest surviving building in central Liverpool with its fantastic art offering (and excellent food and drink) wasn’t reason enough alone to visit, there’s also a treasure trove of gifts hidden behind its walls.

Kernaghan Books should be top of the shopping list for anyone even remotely interested in books. This Liverpool institution has rare and collectable items alongside everyday classics – all of which are perfect for the wordsmith in your life.

Root Houseplants and Mary Mary Florals, meanwhile, provide plants and flowers at affordable prices and will help you find just the right gift for even the most discerning of recipients.

R&J Porter is a must-visit for that someone special; the legendary Scouse master-silversmith and engraver Bob Porter, who engraves all of the Grand National trophies, also designs his own jewellery and product range for men, women and homes, so stop off to find a unique design.

There are many more retailers to be found here (including Probe Records, Lalligrass, and Dressology by Cristiana), but one that needs a special mention is the Bluecoat Display Centre, where you’ll find one-off pieces of art and crafts that pretty much sum up what this special creative area is all about.

Nearest station: Liverpool Central

Walking distance: Four minutes

West Kirby, Wirral


From arts and crafts shops to clothing boutiques, there’s so many independent retail offerings to be found in West Kirby. And with the train station right in the heart of the town, you can step off the train and right into the shops.

For a good quality clothing item, either for you or for a loved one, Wrogue and Wrobe on Grange Road is a good place to start. Stocking a wide range of clothing, shoes, jewellery and handbags, it’s a great place to find that perfect outfit.

Seagrass Studio Gallery, on Acacia Grove, meanwhile, is brimming with unusual gifts, from paintings and jewellery to ceramics and glass.

Over on Crescent Walk, you’ll find Roost Home Living where you can stock up on home accessories that also make lovely presents, and the Red Balloon Toy Shop, which stocks thousands of toys at any one time.

Le Bizz on Banks Road also sells cards, as well as Gisela Graham goods, Coeur de Lion jewellery, Spaceform glass keepsakes and Bomb cosmetics plus children’s gifts too, while Staacks, also on Banks Road, is perfect for one-off arts and crafts goods.

There’s also plenty of little coffee shops and restaurants, so be sure to schedule in pit stops along the way.

Nearest station: West Kirby

Walking distance: One minute

The Rows, Chester

Chester Christmas Lights-

Possibly one of the most beautiful places to undertake your Christmas shopping, The Rows in Chester are the higher-tier of shops that you have to climb narrow steps to reach along Watergate Street, Northgate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge Street, as well as smaller areas set off the main streets such as Rufus Court and Godstall Lane.

Here, you can shop to your heart’s content, and enjoy a spot of food too, thanks to numerous independent businesses offering a combination of the two.

The Flower Cup on Watergate Row is one such example. Start your day here and you can enjoy brunch or coffee before heading next door to The Violet Palm to pick up some Christmas plants and flowers. Then move on to Harriet & Dee, also on Watergate Row for festive cards and gifts.

Over on Bridge Street Row, you’ll find NICHOLS & Co which have lovely soya wax scented candles and home accessories, while The Rows Jewellers nearby is brilliant for finding pieces of jewellery to treasure.

At the Second Floor Vintage Store on Upper Northgate Street, it’s not just about the shopping. With the focus on the experience as a whole, you can also enjoy a hit drink, play board games, read a book and listen to live music; all while taking your time choosing the perfect giftware and homeware for the recipient.

Of course, there are many, many more independents here, so make a day of it and take your time, soaking up the historic setting along the way.

Nearest station: Chester

Walking distance: 18 minutes to Watergate Row


Also nearby

Day Saver  - Unlimited off-peak travel for £5.30 or less

Day Saver - Unlimited off-peak travel for £5.30 or less

A Merseyrail Day Saver is valid for unlimited travel after 9.30am weekdays and all day weekends and bank holidays from just £4!

Bike & Go

Bike & Go

Cycle from the station as part of your day out. Hire a Bike & Go for just £3.80 for 24 hours.

A Family of 5 travel for just £11!*

A Family of 5 travel for just £11!*

*A Merseyrail Family Ticket covers up to a family of 5 for unlimited travel after 9.30am weekdays and all day on weekends and bank holidays. The ticket covers children aged 5 - 15 travelling with 1 or 2 adults.

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