In the first half of 2020, the UK’s retail market endured seismic change, as the Coronavirus pandemic forced consumers online and e-commerce grew as much as had been expected through 2030.
While this decimated many UK high streets and has ushered bakeries, barbers, and nail bars into the spaces once occupied by traditional shops, the Isle of Wight has proved largely impervious to such change.
This is because the island’s high streets had already welcomed such entities onto their high streets, with customers seemingly preferring independent, boutique stores in the region. So, the island has continued to thrive and benefit from sustainable high street growth, while offering a unique shopping experience to consumers.
But where are the best places to go shopping in the Isle of Wight, and what sets these locations apart from their competitors?
Where to Go Shopping on the Isle of Wight
Newport Retail and Shopping Centres
Newport has always been a key shopping hub in the Isle of Wight, from the days of the Vine Pub, Frank Whitchers Countryman’s traditional outfitters, and Terry’s Snack Bar.
While many of these names are now figments of Newport’s proud past, the destination remains the Isle of Wight’s capital town and primary shopping hub, thanks in part to its convenient (and idyllic) location at the base of the River Medina.
Certainly, you can combine Newport Isle of Wight shopping with local day trips and sun-kissed exploration, while the town’s main commercial hubs and high street is also home to the island’s main bus station.
In addition to boasting advanced public transportation links, Newport is home to some highly pedestrianised areas. The site also features a huge number of retailers, combining recognised brands with local shops and boutique outlets that offer access to a unique range of products across multiple marketplaces.
It’s interesting to note that Newport is more or less located at the geographic centre of the Island, and it certainly exists as a popular retail and commercial hub. We’d also recommend Newport’s quayside, which is an incredibly attractive place to stroll and home to a large number of bars, eateries, and different cuisines.
The Royal Victoria Arcade in Ryde, Isle of Wight
Like Newport, there’s not one popular Ryde shopping centre on the Isle of Wight, but several locations where you can visit to enjoy an immersive and hopefully rewarding consumer adventure.
Take the Royal Victoria Arcade, which is the leader of the pack and is located right in the centre of Ryde. Interestingly, this mall is also one of the oldest and longest-standing venues of its type on the island, having been initially built between 1835 and 1836.
It was subsequently restored in 2001 following sustained investment in the area, while it now features 14 shops and even an underground museum that’s home to some fascinating pieces of art and artefacts. The structure of the arcade itself is categorised as a Grade II listed building, making it a genuinely important building in the region.
Above all else, the Royal Victoria Arcade shopping centre in Ryde is dripping with historical heritage and character, while it’s packed full of diverse entertainment options for people of all ages.
Most importantly, it’s a hotbed for socialisation in the area, and is widely frequented by natives and visitors alike (especially during the summer and peak seasonal activity).
Cowes Town Central Shopping Arcade (and Pinnacle Suites Hotel)
If there was an award for the Isle of Wight’s best shopping centre, Cowes Town Central Arcade would be a key contender. This has been built on Cowes high street and combines its excellent location with a unique range of products and retailers.
Of course, Cowes is divided into east and west towns, and accessible via the location’s ‘floating bridge’ ferry service. This can also connect you to the nearby Hope Beach, which is in turn set beneath a busy esplanade that features a wide range of activities and restaurants.
The shopping centre itself is beautifully laid out and easy to navigate, while it’s home to 12 exciting (and largely bespoke) shops and up to 7,000 in-store product lines. This creates a fun, exciting, and one-stop marketplace, and one in which you’ll be able to enjoy a truly unique shopping experience.
Several genres are covered in the Cowes Shopping Centre, including film and music, mystical fantasy, and sweet treats. There’s also a busy and bustling ‘Gin Joint’, and the latter two stores will leave you feeling far happier than when you arrived!
Due to the unique nature of the Cowes Shopping Centre and its stores, there’s excitement at every single turn, while the surrounding area also makes the location a must-see entity if you’re visiting the Isle of Wight for the first time.
Farm and Local Produce Shops in Ryde and Arreton
No list of the best Isle of Wight shopping locations would be complete without reference to the island’s relationship with local produce, which is sourced and sold through farm stores throughout the region.
Arguably, the Isle of Wight offers access to some of the freshest and most delicious locally sourced produce in the whole of the UK, through a number of stores that provide immense choice and variation.
Take the Quarr Abbey Farm Shop, for example, which is located in Ryde and is a rustic farm shop that boasts a diverse range of local, agricultural produce. This includes produce that has been sourced from Quarr Abbey’s surrounding landscape, while the goods are sold at competitive prices and all year round.
Then there’s Harvey Browns, which is another popular and often bustling farm shop located in Arreton. This store provides a quintessential Isle of Wight food experience that has evolved from a four-generation patch of farmland, which is located deep in the heart of the Island’s beguiling Arreton Valley.
This is also a complete food destination that features a cafe and farm produce hall, the latter of which includes a superb deli and butcher’s counter. This ensures that you access a truly organic field-to-fork experience when visiting Harvey Browns, whether you want to enjoy a tasty meal on-site or take some produce back to where you came from!