2 May 2022/ Retail Guide

Find your next retail property to rent in Bristol

Discover your next retail property in Bristol  

Bristol is a multicultural maritime city that buzzes with innovation and creativity. From Brunel’s landmark Clifton Suspension Bridge to Banksy’s satirical street art, plus a dazzling array of shopping experiences from big names to bijou independents, you’ll find this South West metropolis has lots going for it.

Twice named the best city in Britain to live in, Bristol was the first to win the European Green Capital Award. Thanks to all the museums, theatres and live music gigs on offer, it was also voted the most artistic in the UK. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder it’s a hit with residents, students and visitors alike – day visitors to the region number 20.5 million each year, with total tourism-supported turnover worth an estimated £1.85 billion to local businesses.

Explore where Bristol's retail properties could take your business

Retail spaces in and around Bristol

When it comes to shopping, Bristol has every kind of retail experience you could possibly wish for, with a variety of shopping hotspots that each have a distinctive vibe.

Slap bang in the city centre is the Bristol Shopping Quarter – a huge shopping area with a mix of familiar brands and independent outlets. Centred around Broadmead, The Galleries, The Arcade and Quakers Friars, it’s also the location of the iconic Cabot Circus, which is home to more than 120 high-street and high-end stores, restaurants, bars and a Cinema de Lux, all under one vast glass roof.

Heading out of Cabot Circus through the old Victorian park, you’ll find Old Market, a thriving bohemian blend of furniture makers, antique shops, vintage fashion, specialist climbing and motorcycle stores, art galleries and cafes.

Then you’ve got the cobbled Old City, a maze of ancient streets home to a diverse selection of stall traders and street food vendors at St Nicholas Market. Hidden away off the city centre is the magical Christmas Steps Arts Quarter dating back to the 1600s, where silversmiths, design shops and booksellers display and sell their wares. 

Take a leisurely walk up the hill to Park Street and The Triangle to find some of the trendiest fashion boutiques, music stores, cafes and bars in the city. Keep on going till you arrive in the Regency streets of Clifton Village, a treasure trove of upmarket independent retailers selling designer goods, handmade pottery, jewellery and homewares.

For retro and vintage finds, travel northeast from the city centre to explore the alternative shops of Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road – the latter boasts Europe’s longest street of independent shops.

Heading southeast towards the harbour you’ll discover Wapping Wharf, Bristol's newest district and a hub of innovative independent traders. Just 10 minutes away is Bedminster and Southville – the second largest area for shopping in Bristol – and a district which champions long-standing local businesses from family butchers to furniture shops.

Just out of town, off the M4/M5 interchange, is The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. Here you'll find the familiar big-name brands, including John Lewis & Partners and M&S, conveniently all in one place.

Excellent transport links make Bristol a fantastic retail location

Bristol is well connected by road

Bristol has an excellent network of roads that cross the city and is connected to the rest of the country by the M32, which runs from the centre out to the M5 at Almondsbury. Once you’ve hopped on this motorway, you can travel to Birmingham, via Gloucester, Cheltenham and Worcester. The M4 is also connected to north Bristol, which runs through Swansea, Cardiff and Newport to the west and places including Swindon, Reading and London to the east.

Bristol has an excellent rail network

Bristol Temple Meads, the city’s biggest and busiest rail station, welcomes more than 11 million passengers in a typical year. Most services are operated by Great Western Railway, though some that are operated by Cross Country stop here too.

It takes just over an hour and a half to reach London via train, and under two hours to reach Birmingham, meaning you can easily travel for work or meetings. You can also head to destinations that are further afield from Bristol, including Manchester and Scotland.

There are lots of useful bus routes in Bristol

The main operator in the city is First Buses, which runs services all across Bristol and its outskirts. There are speedy cross-city MetroBus services that stop less frequently than other routes, allowing you to cross the city in less time. Additionally, there are a number of services that connect Bristol with nearby towns and cities such as Bath. And if you’re looking to travel further afield, a high number of long-haul services, operated by National Express and Megabus, call in the city.

Bristol has an international airport

This bustling airport is around half an hour outside of the city, with direct bus services running from Bristol Temple Meads and the centre. From here, you can jet off for business to a wide range of short-haul destinations and a select range of long haul, including New York, Egypt, Dubai, Cancun and more.

There’s lots to attract customers to Bristol

When in Bristol, you would never be short of things to do. The city plays host to festivals celebrating everything from hot air balloons to craft beer, street art – Upfest is Europe’s largest graffiti event – along with the annual Bristol Harbour Festival, a family-friendly dance, music and arts extravaganza.

There are countless leisure activities for people to enjoy – from art galleries and museums and national treasures, such as Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic, to an array of theatres and venues such as the Old Vic, the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world.

Bristol is also a paradise for foodies. Whatever whets your appetite, you’ll find everything from cosy pubs and top brunch spots to dog-friendly, vegan and street food eateries.

Sports fans are well catered for too. Ashton Gate stadium is home to Championship team Bristol City FC and Premiership Rugby Union club Bristol Bears, bringing plenty of footfall on match days. To make the most of this of this, find a retail property in Bristol.

Business amenities in Bristol

Business-focused hotels in the city

Whether you’re looking to impress a client by putting them up in a five-star hotel or need an affordable, conveniently located spot to stay, Bristol has a wide range of hotels. If you’ve got a bigger budget, places like the Bristol Marriott Royal, The Bristol Hotel or Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa are popular options. Alternatively, you’ll find well-known budget brands, such as Holiday Inn, Premier Inn and ibis within easy reach too.

Notable retail tenants in Bristol

  • Cabot Circus – Here you’ll find many of the best-known fashion brands such as Oliver Bonas, & Other Stories, Reiss, Harvey Nichols, Zara, All Saints and River Island.
  • The Galleries – Home to more than 70 different stores and retailers including Robert Dyas, Jack Wills, Waterstones, Whittard and WH Smith.
  • The Mall, Cribbs Causeway – Top brands include Accessorize, Boots, Boss, Charles Clinkard, Fat Face, H&M, John Lewis, Lush and M&S.

The future of retail space in Bristol

Property consultants Alder King reveal that there has been action in Bristol’s retail property market over the last year. Notably, due to changes in consumer behaviour, the repurposing of large retail premises such as the former Debenhams store, which is being sold for alternative uses including residential and education. Alder King reports a strong demand at the smaller end of the retail and leisure markets, led by a new breed of independent operators.

Commercial estate agent Carter Jonas notes that Bristol city centre vacancies increased during 2020, with prime retail rents falling sharply, providing opportunities for potential tenants. The agent also states that secondary rents are holding up well, with some units going to best bids. Sectors that are particularly active include food and convenience stores, pets and home related products such as flooring, furniture, bathrooms and tiles.

Retro and vintage stores are also coming to the fore to meet a growing appetite for upcycled, second hand and ethical clothes, along with savvy retailers who are meeting the trend for more experience-led shopping. And with redevelopment plans now in place for the city centre’s Broadmead shopping quarter, it presents an exciting opportunity for retail outlets of all kinds.

Find your next retail property to rent in Bristol

Key retail agents in Bristol

  • Savills
  • Alder King
  • Maggs & Allen
  • Hootons
  • Macarthur Wilson

Where to learn more

We have many articles and guides on the retail industry, covering everything from trends, such as how much retail space you need, to sought-after locations. We recommend reading about emerging ESG trends in retail and key industry trends for 2022 to stay at the forefront of retail.