The Best Big Store Shopping in Central Cambridge

John Lewis Cambridge shop window with bike
John Lewis Cambridge shop window with bike

The academic and historical city of Cambridge has a superb selection of ‘anchor’ supermarkets and very well known high street stores. If you are thinking of heading to the beautiful county of Cambridgeshire you may like our previous articles on

Where To Stay for a Budget Cost Minibreak in Cambridge

Cool Places to Go in Cambridge without Breaking the Bank

In England there are the usual signature emporiums that are the ‘go to’ places for buying everything for the home, for work and also enjoying travelling and outdoor life. These vast shops which are packed with variety can be found in the characterful central zone in Cambridge, which is conveniently pedestrianised.

The Grand Arcade on Downing Street is an airy glass centre that includes a John Lewis department store. Head of Branch Dominic Joyce explained that “we’re delighted to have our services available to you again, including The Place to Eat…and Bureau de Change. We’re also really excited about our Christmas shop…” John Lewis have also been leading the way with personal shopping experiences online for those who are shielding or self isolating or just love to do their shopping online. Check out their website for beauty and fashion make-overs with one of their team using web conferencing software such as Zoom. (1)

There is also a Marks and Spencer which has a cafe with their own brand food and tasty coffee, tea and cakes. This M&S has been in Cambridge for many years and has been refurbished several times. A complete department store which includes a food section, Marks and Spencer is a reliable retailer who specialises in the more mature customer although they are known for having quality clothing and underwear for everyone.

Unusually this Marks & Spencer has no toilet or baby changing facilities. Drummer Street public toilets are a few minutes walk away and there are public facilities in the Grand Arcade mall and several coffee shops close by. M&S have a loyalty program which is also an app for mobile phones and a comprehensive website which includes offers, beauty and hampers and flowers for delivery to any doorstep in the UK. (2)

Next is situated in Sidney Street next to M&S and their store services include Menswear, Womenswear, Home as well as a click and collect pickup point. Their ‘Emma Willis’ range contains lots of wearable separates, dresses and jumpsuits in neutral colours. Younger shoppers will opt for their ‘streetstyle’ zone.

A full compliment of smart looks and a selection of casual favourites make Next a top destination especially for working women. The 1980’s business success story continues as Next’s online sales continue to lead the way for the company who reported profits this financial quarter despite the complications of trading through a pandemic. Next also retail men’s suits, formalwear and everyday clothing with more than a dozen designer labels to suit most guy’s tastes. Childrenswear and homewear and lingerie and beauty are also included within the umbrella of Next’s store but only the out of town ‘sheds’ carry all the departments.

A large Waterstones book shop is a real treat that comes with the smart Oxbridge location. Nearby on Sidney Street is Lakeland which is another gem to visit with all sorts of goodies for the home, that can be found in the heart of this town. Lakeland is based in Windermere in the picturesque Lake District and has everything a cook could need in a country kitchen. This British company has brilliant storage, cleaning and laundry sections with products that you often can’t find elsewhere. Their Christmas foodie gift displays cater for gluten free people and look delicious too. (3)

All the premises we visited were enforcing social distancing with ‘traffic’ flows in place and separate entrances and exits as well as installing copious anti-bacterial hand sanitizing stands. TK Maxx offer a ‘posh jumble sale’ experience with the chance of ‘bagging a designer bargain’. The successful warehouse inspired showroom was selling a great selection of cashmere jumpers at about £40 upwards which went straight onto our wish list for the upcoming winter season. They supply almost every type of fashion and home furnishing you might think of including lingerie and accessories. It is worth knowing that TK Maxx also hold a small collection of white cotton and bamboo bedding sets and pillowcases called ‘Cambridge House’ which would make an ideal souvenir from any trip to this destination know for its world famous university. (4)

An impressive and capacious Zara was getting ready for their Fall fashion stock edition which they have entitled ‘High Tension’.

Zara’s ‘High Tension’ assortment is tempting ladies of all ages with a nearly exclusively monochrome group of pieces. The suiting and wool garments will easily vamp up any Autumn wardrobe. Stylish tops are important right now. These hard working blouses and jumpers can be worn for important socially distanced meetings in person. They are also key for appearing effortlessly well presented when making and receiving video calls from the home office.

An extensive men’s collection has something for every chap and a surprisingly large range of ripped jeans for the windy month of October. Zara also do wonderful homeware with informal European style. The Spanish chain’s department just for ‘what to wear at home’ is perfect for keeping cosy and cute, during the long winters nights. (5)

H&M will satisfy any fashion essentials on the list too. Still touting their summer sale they are also selling womens ‘shackets’ or oversized jackets that double as very thick warm shirts. Their ‘must haves’ are very reasonably priced wearable basics that will mix and match well with any capsule wardrobe for the cooler months. Both menswear and ladieswear are on the sporty but casual side of contemporary apparel.

Swedish brand H&M is an ideal place to look if you are a student, home worker, creative or have a retired active lifestyle. “The Fashion Transparency Index by Fashion Revolution evaluates how transparent the 250 largest global brands and retailers are on a range of social and environmental sustainability issues. In 2020, we became the highest scoring brand!” states the H&M website. It is certainly the case that this Scandinavian company’s sustainability credentials are central to its core strategy which is good to know. (6)

Although we are not big Primark fans this enormous brand is popular with students and families on a very tight budget. It is not surprising this department store has done very well despite all the problems faced by corporations this year. Affordable trend lead fashion can be found from wall to wall. Look out for sustainable cotton garments and the Pre-Loved clothing recycle box which is a nice idea and a little better for the planet which is impacted adversely by fast fashion. Primark is amazing and has its place if we all remember to consume responsibly.

We hope you have an opportunity to browse around this brilliant educational county. We found that everyone on the streets and inside the venues we visited were wearing masks and adhering carefully the the latest guidance on keeping safe to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

Please check out the latest government regulations on travelling around the UK. Cambridgeshire sits in the Tier 1 ‘medium’ alerts level today. Caution should be remembered to be safely spaced when in public buildings as cases in this area continue to rise.

At the moment most fitting rooms are closed for the time being but most sales managers are offering full refunds if purchases are unsuitable. We wish you all happy shopping, keep safe and continue to enjoy supporting our High Streets nationwide.


(1) ‘John Lewis & Partners, Cambridge’ 23 October 2020 John Lewis and Partners Cambridge

(2) ‘Find your nearest store’ Marks and Spencer, 23 October 2020 Find nearest store, Marks and Spencer

(3) ‘Magic in the making’ Lakeland, 23 October 2020 Lakeland home and cookware

(4) ‘100s of big brand arrivals’ TK Maxx, 23 October 2020 TK Maxx Fashion and home

(5) ‘High Tension: FW20 Womens Campaign’ Zara, 23 October 2020 Zara Fashion store

(6) ‘Let’s be transparent’ H&M, 23 October 2020 H&M sustainability page

(8) Primark Cambridge, Primark, 23 October 2020 Primark Cambridge