Cardiff is the shopping capital of Wales. Recently named the sixth best shopping destination in the UK, Cardiff has the whole spectrum of shopping, with charming Edwardian and Victorian arcades and ultra-modern shopping centres.
With a combination of designer brands, high street names as well as more individual and independent shops, there’s something for every look and budget. Read on to find out our favourite places to shop in Cardiff during your time here at university.
Best for: bargain hunters and thrill seekers
Student Lock-In is an out of hours student shopping event held at shopping venues across the UK that started here in Cardiff. Since the very first event held at St. David’s Shopping Centre in 2010, there have been over 40 events in more than 20 venues across the country.
At Student Lock-In events, students are granted exclusive access to one-night-only discounts, giveaways and competitions across on-site stores and promotional stands.
There is also a range of entertainment, including meet and greets with famous faces; activities such as climbing walls and surf simulators; on-site club features like bars, live music and DJ performances; a unique party atmosphere that is unrivalled by any other student event.
To take part you need to pre-register through studentlockin.com and show your registration code and valid student ID on the night and receive their exclusive discounts. These annual events usually take place at the start of the academic year. Be sure not to miss this student-exclusive event!
St. David's Shopping Centre
Best for: fashionistas and shopaholics
Welcome to St David’s Dewi Sant, Wales’ newest, biggest and best fashion destination. For the best in high street names find all you need and more in the Grand Arcade. Running right through the centre of St David’s you’re sure to find plenty of inspiration and on-trend ideas from H&M, Superdry and Oasis.
Adding a local flavour to the shopping centre, Welsh ice cream specialist Cadwaladers has opened an outlet in the Eastside food court where there’s a range of cafes and restaurants open until late. Add in John Lewis – Wales’ biggest department store, and the biggest John Lewis store outside London – and the wealth of up-market accessory and jewellery boutiques along Hayes Arcade, and you can see why Cardiff is now one of the UK’s top shopping destinations.
Best for: independent shops and traditional, artisan foods
The six Victorian and Edwardian arcades are one of Cardiff’s most attractive and distinctive features. When living in Cardiff, these arcades offer the best shops and independent retailers for you to find those unique presents that you won't find on the high street.
The Castle Arcade was built around 1887 and, as the name suggests, runs from opposite Cardiff Castle to the High Street. Inside you can see a beautiful gallery with a wooden second floor overhang and foot bridges. You’ll find an array of edible goodies at Madame Fromage, including specialty cheeses, delicious breads and pastas.
Within Morgan Arcade, the oldest record shop in the world, Spillers Records was founded in 1894 by Henry Spiller and specialised in the sale of phonographs, wax cylinders and shellac phonograph discs. Today, you’ll find a diverse selection of music on CD and vinyl as well as merchandise, music DVDs and local gig tickets alongside their famous Spillers clothing range.
The oldest of Cardiff’s arcades, dating back to 1858 the Royal Arcade is situated in towards the south of the city centre, opposite the new St David’s development, running from the Hayes to St Mary Street. Here you’ll find independent shops such as Wally’s Delicatessen, who’ve been in the arcade for 60 years!
Be sure to check out The Arcades during the Christmas season, it's an absolute pleasure walking through Cardiff's arcades under all the festive lighting!
The Castle Emporium (aka Cardiff Fashion Quarter)
Best for: vintage fashion and retro finds
The Cardiff Fashion Quarter is an ideal place for students in Cardiff as you can find all the clothes you need, from comfy clothes for music festivals to hip going-out clothes that make you stand out from the crowd.
Centrally located, The Castle Emporium is in Womanby St, opposite the clock tower of Cardiff Castle. Vintage and retro fashions, vinyl, homewares and more. Here you will find a different unique shopping experience.
This former Art Deco cinema is home to over 20 independent traders under one roof offering an eclectic mix of Vintage and Retro fashion in specialist boutiques, collectibles from eras past, hand crafted designer wares, records, contemporary art, jewellery, home wares and unusual gifts.
If you enjoy shopping away from the mainstream, you will have fun exploring our friendly Aladdin’s cave of vintage treasures and curiosities.
Cardiff Indoor Market
Best for: fresh food for cooking enthusiasts
As a student, you might be able to survive on pasta and oven pizzas from your local supermarket. But if you're stomach is growling at you and you want the freshest ingredients you can buy, look no further than Cardiff's indoor market.
Cardiff Indoor Market is an impressive Victorian structure which offers a unique shopping experience in the heart of a modern, bustling city. Under one great glass roof you will find a wealth of products ranging from pots and pans to bread and butter, and from nuts and bolts to rock and roll.
The market has been trading in one form or another since the 1700s. It has occupied the same site for over 100 years and although you will no longer find livestock tethered and penned outside its doors, some of the old features remain to this day.