Shopping in Plymouth
The main shopping area for Plymouth is the area immediately above Plymouth Hoe in between the estuaries for the Rivers Tamar and Plym. This area was completely rebuilt after the Second World War and the main city centre shops are now located in and around the first pedestrianised shopping zone in England, known as Armada Way. The Armada Way runs from Plymouth Hoe in the south of the city to North Cross, which marks the northern boundary of the city centre. The four main shopping streets in Plymouth; Royal Parade, New George, Cornwall and Mayflower Streets are all bisected by the Armada Way. Plymouth is by far the largest shopping centre for the south west region with its shops easily accessible on foot from both the main railway station and bus station at Bretonside.
Opened in 2006, Drake Circus shopping mall hopes to consolidate Plymouth’s shops into one area attracting 15 million visitors a year. The £200 million project has some stores open within it. It has attracted a fair amount of controversy already with its exterior cladding being criticised by architects as ‘ten years out of date’ before the project was even completed. Opinion from the citizens of Plymouth is divided as to whether they like the shopping mall or not. P&O, the owners of Drake Circus, describe it as “Bright and airy …. Sophisticated modern shopping experience … and avoiding the claustrophobic feeling that can be experienced in some shopping malls”. However, the shoppers themselves seem to have more negative comments than positive ones so far. Apart from disliking the exterior, they describe the interior as ‘unfriendly to push-chairs’ and ‘having a shortage of lifts’. Other comments include ‘ …. too many shops for women with men’s shops poorly represented’ and a general dislike of the floor, which continually changes colour and texture, which people report as having a disorientating affect. Opinion is also divided as to whether the city’s shoppers wanted an indoor Mall at all. The city council clearly embraced the project, Plymouth must have been one of the last cities in the UK to acquire a shopping mall, and the city council had hoped that most of the current High Street shops would relocate into it allowing them to refurbish the existing shop buildings to accommodate new retail outlets. At present most of the major store chains have not relocated to it, the only real exceptions being M&S, who have connected their existing store on Cornwall Street to it and Boots who have opened a store within it. All in all meaning that the council’s plans for redeveloping the rest of the city are on hold. There are about 50 stores in total open so far in Drake Circus. The Mall is open 09:00 to 18:00 except Thursday when it’s open until 20:00 and Sundays when its opening times are 10:30 to 16:30. The Drake Circus shopping mall is situated between Charles Street and Exeter Street.
Plymouth has three main department stores; Dingles (which is part of the House of Fraser) is on the Royal Parade and opens daily at 09:00 apart from Tuesdays, 09:30 and Sundays at 11:00. Four days a week it closes at 17:30 apart from Thursdays at 19:00, Saturday at 18:00 and Sundays at 17:00. Debenham’s is another major department store in Plymouth which is located on New George Street. The third department store in Plymouth is called Derrys, it is part of the Plymouth & South West Co-Op group of stores which was established in the mid nineteenth century. Derrys is on the Royal Parade. All the best known high street shops are to be found in Plymouth including; Marks & Spencer, Boots , W H Smith, BodyShop, BHS, Argos, Virgin Megastore, HMV, TopShop, Woolworths, Mothercare and Disney.
The Marsh Mills Retail Park is the main retail park for Plymouth. It is located off the A38, Plymouth Parkway, at Marsh Mills. Here you’ll find a selection of car sales, electrical/electronic retailers, DIY and furniture stores as well as some of the well known High Street chain shops.
Near Frankfort Gate, to the west of the city centre, is the Pannier market. This indoor market has over 120 stalls selling a range of goods including some of the finest Westcountry fayre such as locally landed fish and creamy Cornish Yarg. Pannier market is open daily from 08:00 to 17:30 except for Wednesdays when it closes at 16:30 and Sundays when it is closed all day. There is also a Farmers market on the Armada Way every 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. The market features 25 stalls selling produce from the local area around Plymouth. If you visit Plymouth during the Christmas period the city hosts a Bavarian outdoor market along the main shopping streets.
As one of the Uk’s centres for diving, Plymouth has five places that specialise in selling diving equipment. These are; Aquanauts Dive Centre, Deep Blue Diving, Fort Bovisand Underwater Centre, Sandford and Down and Sound Diving.