Essex is spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping. Here are details of the main shopping centres across Essex. If we’ve missed out one you think should be on the list, let us know! We’ve put details of Xmas opening hours for you, and a few tips about parking, or what else you can do as well as shopping.
Eastgate Shopping Centre
Southernhay, Basildon SS14 1EB
Bang in the middle of Basildon, with 700 car parking spaces (free on Sundays and Bank Holidays). Late night opening in the run up to Christmas 2015 see the centre open to 7pm Mon-Sat and 4pm Sunday. Over 100 stores including many big names : Debenhams, H&M, Next, Primark, Claire’s, Clarkes, Bodyshop, Superdry and many more. There are various services – you can get your hair cut and your feet seen to, go to the bookies, buy your West Ham United replica shirt, choose where to eat from a dozen restaurants.
Battlesbridge Antiques Centre
5 Maltings Road, Battlesbridge, Essex SS11 7RF
Easily accessible by road, just off the A130. There are several places to shop for antiques in Battlesbridge, including a multistorey granary (with a cafe on the top floor with great views). Read our article about our visit there here. There’s a pub, plenty of parking, and it’s easily accessible off the A130. If you’re looking for something a bit different, you could double-up with a trip here and to the shop at the nearby RHS Gardens Hyde Hall.
Links : Battlesbridge Antiques website
Charter Way, Chapel Hill, Braintree, Essex CM77 8YH
Well signposted and easy to get to off the A120/A131, and there’s even a train station. Lots of car parking, and over 80 big stores, including many big names in fashion and clothing. There are places to eat, and a Cineworld. The only fly in the ointment is that they’ve moved a lot of what was in Braintree town centre out here, so what was once a thriving market town is considerably less busy these days!
Links : Freeport Braintree website
Brentwood has a compact town centre, with a wide range of shops. You could double up with a trip to the Brentwood Brewing Company shop, which sits at the back of the Calcott Hall Farm Shop. But for heaven’s sake, don’t use their postcode in your satnav, which takes you to a laybay on the A12. Granted, you’re only about 15 metres from them, but it’s about 14m up a steep grassy bank and over a fence! Drive out of Brentwood on the Ongar Road and look out for them on the left when your cross over the A12.
The Baytree Shopping Centre
Coptfold Road, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4BN.
The Baytree is just off the High Street and adjacent a to 500+ space car park. Their Christmas event for 2015, the ‘Snow Globe’ happened on Saturday 28th November 2015. The biggest names in the shopping centre : Baby Gap, Body Shop, Claire’s, Holland & Barrett, Shoezone, WH Smith.
Links : Baytree Shopping Centre website
Crown Street, Brentwood CM14 4BA
A range of independent shops, many seen on TOWIE, in a historic area of the town.
Links : Crown Street website
Chelmsford has a lot to offer in terms of shopping, taking in the traffic-free wide High Street, shopping centres, and out along the historic Moulsham Street. If you’re arriving by train or bus you can spend a lot of time walking down the High Street, taking in the shopping centres, then ambling up Moulsham Street!
The High Street has some big names : Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, BHS and Primark, and it hosts a market on Friday and Saturdays. There are plenty of places to eat and drink.
Links : High Street details
Both national and independent shops, and the town’s only cinema. Shops include BHS, Dorothy Perkins, Fat Face, Hawkins Bazaar, Warehouse. They open late until 8pm for Xmas 2015 on Thursday 17th December and Monday 21st, Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd December.
Links : The Meadows website
High Chelmer Shopping Centre
80 shops and stores – incls Clarks, Miss Selfridge, Office, River Island, Superdry, Primark. Adjacent to the High Chelmer car park.
A more traditional shopping experience, with a wide range of independent shops. A couple of pubs to check out, and the Chelmsford Museum further up the road.
Links : Moulsham Street website
Chelmsford also boasts a popular ‘traditional’ market, that has been there for some 800 years. It’s currently under the multi-storey car park, and one half of the Essex Days Out team has fond memories of their baked potatoes helping fuel a busy working day at A Block in nearby County Hall in the first half of the 1980s.
Links : Retail Market details
Clacton town centre isn’t one that in all honesty we would direct people to travel to for a shopping day out. Go there for the amusements, the fresh air and the beaches, the pier, lovely walks along the sea front, fish and chips, kiss me quick hats and all that traditional seaside stuff, and their theatre. What Clacton can offer, in terms of shopping is :
The Clacton Factory Outlet
Stephenson Road West, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex CO15 4TL
Clacton Factory Outlet is on the outskirts of town (too far to walk!). As you head into Clacton on the A133, look for the sign to turn off, go straight on over a couple of roundabouts and you’re there. There’s plenty of parking.
Shop-wise there’s an M&S Outlet, JD, Cotton Traders and many more big names, and there are fast food and coffee bars. There is currently (December 2015) Phase One of a redevelopment is currently underway. The central part of the existing layout (where the pirate ship and play area was) is being turned into car parking, and on the town side of the road where there is currently just car parking, there will be more shops and a cinema. The unlovely underpasses will go as part of this redevelopment.
This Xmas they have late night opening on Thursday 17th December 2015, and there are scheduled appearances from Elsa and Olaf.
Colchester has a compact town centre with several distinct shopping centres, and has the big chains, and lots of independent stores. You can park in town, or there’s the new Park & Ride off the A12.
The High Street runs along to the top of the town centre. It has William & Griffins Department Store (recently bought out by Fenwicks and undergoing a major renovation, although it is still very much open). The High Street also has a Waterstones, Marks an Spencers, the Town Hall, the wonderful, independent Red Lion bookshop, and plenty of other shops, eateries, and a big Norman Castle at one end!
Lion Walk Shopping Centre
Built in the 1970s, it takes its name from the medieval Red Lion Hotel that is on the High Street. Go through Red Lion Walk, past some independent shops (we like the Proctor’s Sausage Shop!) and into the shopping centre itself, with entrances to M&S, Boots, BHS, The Body Shop, WH Smiths, and much more.
Links : Lion Walk website
Built in the late 1980s, Culver Square saw Debenhams come to Colchester (and John Nettles, who opened it). There’s a Clarks, a PaperChase, Schuh, HMV, Monsoon, although Jones the Bootmaker has just moved out.
Links : Culver Square website
Look out for lots of independent shops on Trinity Street, Eld Lane, and Long Wyre Street and Short Wyre Street.
The High Street is the place to be, and find parking on, in Epping. A long road, packed with shops, many independent, and places to eat and drink.
The Water Gardens
Harlow. CM20 1AN
Harlow shopping centre has changed a bit since one half of the Essex Days Out team used to go shopping there on a Saturday from nearby Nazeing.
The new Water Gardens include : Clarks, Frankie & Benny’s, Greggs, H&M, River Island, and more. Xmas late night shopping the 3rd, 10th and 17th December 2015. Harlow LeisureZone is nearby.
The Queensgate Centre
Edinburgh Way, Harlow, Essex CM20 2DH
There’s a Cineworld, Currys, Early Learning Centre, Laura Ashley, ToysRUs, and more.
Links : more details
More upmarket shopping than nearby Southend provides, with lots of independent shops, boutiques and the like. Head over to the leighonsea.com shopping pages for details of what’s on offer. If you haven’t been to Leigh, make sure you visit Old Leigh, which is delightful.
The historic town square is the hub for shopping in Saffron Walden. There’s a market there on Tuesday and Saturday, and some of the lovely medieval streets are home to lots of independent shops. Visit the Saffron Directory website for details. There are gardens, a museum, and more to take in on your visit. Car Park details here, although we just head straight to the large Swan Meadow Car Park (CB10 1DA).
Southend High Street has a range of shops, and shopping centres at the top and bottom of the street. Nearby Leigh offers the independent shopping experience.
The Victoria Shopping Centre
45 stores, including Argos, Boots, H Samuel, New Look, Next, Peacocks, Wilkinson and more. Christmas activities include – Sat 12th Dec : face painting, balloon modellers, Christmas workshop to become a certified Elf, Sammy the Seagull, Cliff’s Pavilion will be doing a range of arts and crafts including mosiac poster colouring’
The Royals Shopping Centre
Over 30 stores and 350 car parking spaces in the adjacent car park. Stores include Animal, Boots, Debenhams, H&M, Poundland, Primark. After an overnight stay at the nearby Premier Inn, having watched Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse at the Cliffs Pavilion, we took our morning breakfast in Debenhams by one of the big windows that gives a great view of the pier and the estuary! Xmas Carols on 12th/13th September 2015.
The Victoria Shopping Centre
Links : more details
Westfield Stratford City
Easily accessible by train and tube (which brings lots of young people to the centre). An enormous centre, with big stores like John Lewis and M&S, there’s Disney and Lego stores for little ones, there are way too many to mention (check their listing here. Spoilt for choice in terms of food, and there’s even a real ale bar/microbrewery which can act as a ‘man-creche’ to leave the grumpy husband/boyfriend whilst you girls do the shopping.
Lakeside Shopping Centre
An enormous range of shops details here, including the region’s only IKEA. Just off the M25/A13.
Links : Lakeside website