Shopping in Brighton
Brighton is one of the UK’s most interesting shopping destinations. Boutique stores, tiny independent shops and an assortment of colourful and bustling markets make for some truly unique and eclectic purchases. From bonsai trees to vintage clothes, retro homeware to collectable vinyl, vegetarian shoes to a life-size dancing girl made entirely of chocolate, a plethora of weird and wonderful treats awaits. High-street brands are not forgotten, however; find well-known clothing labels and established department store names holding their own among the more unusual outlets.
In the winding alleyways and little squares of The Lanes area, there are more than 200 independent shops, and windows laden with antique and classic jewellery sit alongside high-fashion clothing and modern interior design shops. The Lanes are particularly good for gift shopping, and have some lovely little cafés stacked with indulgent treats to perk up the weariest of shoppers. Try Lanes Patisserie or Bar du Chocolat for a substantial sugar hit
In the more bohemian and alternative North Laine area, there are over 300 shops in less than half a square mile, and among the items on offer are designer rugs, second-hand books, Latin American furniture, vintage clothing, handmade clothing, fancy-dress costumes and Indonesian fabrics.
For those who prefer high-street shopping, there are plenty of opportunities at Churchill Square and around North Street and the Western Road.
Head to Upper Gardner Street (Saturday from 0900) for a traffic-free market area filled with trinkets old and new.Brighton Flea Market in Kemp Town (open Monday to Saturday 0930–1730, Sunday 1030–1700) offers more than 60 market stalls selling antiques, books, clothing, furniture, paintings and an assortment of alluring bric-a-brac. The Brighton Marina Boot Market (Sunday 0700-1200) is a boot sale and antique market on level nine of the multi-storey car park. It offers 200 stalls and pitches, from art to fashion, from antiques to weird and wonderful hand-me-downs. At Christmas time, the marina is also home to a popular festive market complete with grotto and Father Christmas.
Expansive Churchill Square shopping centre is ideal for those after high-street names and designer labels gathered beneath one shiny roof. The multi-floor centre, sat just a couple of minutes’ walk from Brighton railway station, is filled with 90 shops, plus a range of restaurants and cafés. And it also gives shoppers the change to escape the (at times) rather forceful coastal breeze.
For more high-street brands, such as Top Shop and Marks and Spencer, head to the Brighton end of Western Road – if you do fancy the jaunt along Western Road towards Hove, you’ll find some great restaurants, cafés and pubs at the other end.
Shopping hours in Brighton are generally 0900-1800. In North Laine and The Lanes, shops can open a little later in the morning, but this is compensated for by later closing times. Churchill Square shopping centre opens later on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Most shops have shorter opening hours on Sunday.
Non-EU residents can reclaim the VAT (Value Added Tax) on purchases from stores operating the VAT Retail Export Scheme; tourist shops are usually part of this, but you should check before making your purchases. You must present the receipt and a completed VAT form to a customs officer when leaving the EU. See www.global-blue.com or www.hmrc.gov.uk for further information.