Living in Birmingham

Birmingham is in England’s top three most-visited places to shop, and the Bullring has had markets since the 12th century.

The market has hundreds of stalls selling everything from fish and meat to fabric and clothes. You’ll find the city is a shoppers' paradise, with glossy, modern retail centres, restored Victorian arcades and a range of markets offering everything from designer labels to second-hand bargains.


You’ll find all of the UK’s main high-street stores in the city, along with smaller boutiques and special interest shops.

Explore Birmingham

Birmingham has lots of places to explore including Chinatown, the Jewellery Quarter and the Mailbox. The Visit Birmingham website contains details of all the places Birmingham has to offer for a day out.

The Bullring

The Bullring is Birmingham's newest shopping destination. Built at a cost of £500 million, it has more than 160 shops and restaurants covering an area equivalent to 26 football pitches. The Bullring is home to Selfridges and a range of designer shops.


Digbeth is where you’ll find a mass of retailers, music shops and vintage fairs, while the underground Oasis market in the city centre showcases independent retailers and unique fashion.

An international Students' guide to shopping in Birmingham

As a new student in a new country, you will have a lot of things that you need to buy. Here are some notes from our current international students and different shops you can buy from.

Groceries and essentials:
  1. In order of lowest to highest price and quality for groceries, the main supermarkets in the UK are: ASDA, Aldi, Poundland, Lidl, Tesco, Iceland (strictly frozen groceries), Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. 
  2. Any supermarket name followed by the title ‘Metro’ or ‘Local’ represents a smaller version of the shop. They sometimes have a slightly higher price than their equivalent bigger option and less products, however, it means it is positioned in a more central area or a convenient route. Possibly the best place to buy bits and bobs such as milk or bread. For big shopping lists, go to the larger version of the supermarket. 
  3. You can buy your groceries online and have them delivered to your door. Most big supermarkets offer this option along with online only shops such as Ocado.
  4. Want to get cheap, fresh, organic and local fruit, veggies and meat? The Bullring Open Market is open every Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 5:30 pm. It is positioned behind the Bullring Shopping Centre.
  5. The Chinese Quarter is the best place to find Far East Asian products that are hard to find in normal supermarkets. It is conveniently positioned behind the Bullring Shopping Centre and the Bullring Indoor Market. 
  6. For essentials, most big supermarkets (not the metro or local ones) are ready for student arrivals and will have necessities such as toiletries, duvets (blankets), bed linen, crockery (pans, pots, cutlery, mugs and plates). Buying your necessities during September at supermarkets keeps you on a budget as they tend to be ‘student friendly prices’.
  7. Another great place to get necessities and basic furniture is IKEA. There is a showroom in city centre (5 minutes’ walk from the City Centre campus) for smaller items and you can order online and get your stuff delivered to collect from the showroom or straight to your door.
  8. If money is no problem and you wish to have high-quality essentials, then any shop from Debenhams in Bullring Shopping Centre to John Lewis in Grand Central is the perfect place for you to shop. 
Other useful knowledge:
  1. Argos is mainly an online store but it has order and collection points such as the one in the city centre. Argos is great for appliances, electronics and furniture but it also offers almost every product that you would need. It is a great starting point.
  2. TK Maxx is situated between Bullring Shopping Centre and Grand Central. It acts is an outlet store so you can find a lot of good quality products at an affordable price. They also tend to have an almost constant 30% discount.
  3. Bullring Shopping Centre is the biggest shopping offering over 160 different shops.
There are other shops for you to choose from once you start familiarising yourself with Birmingham. The ones highlighted here are the generally popular and most common choices. Explore the city and find other options that suit you personally such as the Victorian Arcades, Jewellery Quarter and more. Birmingham caters for every taste.