The traditional Australian shopping strip is experiencing many changes, with online shopping shifting how we shop and what we look for when we do shop. Those brands and stores that have been too large to adapt have suffered, but agile shops that maintain their connection to their communities, offer something people can’t get online, and rethink the shopping experience continue to flourish.
As one of Australia’s shopping hubs, Melbourne is no stranger to this change in retail, but many of its most famous shopping districts long ago embraced the influence of digital shopping and so these areas have adapted and transformed into shopping areas that work harder to attract shoppers. Here are nine of Melbourne’s most captivating shopping areas to visit.
One of Melbourne’s oldest and most famous shopping areas, Lygon Street is famous for its role in fostering Melbourne’s now world-renowned coffee scene, thanks to Italian restaurant and bar owners who made the street a vibrant hub over the second half of the 20th century.
While the pressures online shopping have seen the area change somewhat, there are a number of stores that ring true to the street’s Italian history, while others continue to pop up across both fashion and food. Nothing says Melbourne more like heading to Lygon Street to eat a pre-movie plate of pasta at Tiamo, followed by a film at Nova Cinema, then a hop across to Readings Bookstore for a browse, dessert at Pidapipó and finally a nightcap at the newly refurbished King and Godfree.
Flinders Lane offers a range of shops as well as access to some of Melbourne’s most famous laneways, including Degraves Street and Centre Place.
Famous for its restaurants and cafes (i.e. Cumulus Inc., Chin Chin, Ezard, Cecconi’s), Flinders Lane is also a sartorial hotspot in Melbourne, with well-known brands like Alpha60, Incu, Et Al, Miss Louise and more. With coffee, baguettes, crêpes, and bagels surrounding you, Flinders Lane is a great spot to start off a day of shopping in Melbourne.
Melbourne Central has a rich history, with its famous dome constructed around the original Coop’s Shot Tower of 1889, which was Melbourne’s tallest building until the 1940s. Anyone who has grown up in Melbourne will tell you of fond memories in Melbourne Central, while the number of shops within its walls will keep you occupied for the entire day.
Chadstone Shopping Centre
Melbourne’s most famous shopping centre, and not for no reason. It seems like Chadstone Shopping Centre is perpetually undergoing development and expansion, and yet those from Melbourne always get a sense of nostalgia when they visit some of their longstanding and favourite stores. Chadstone has just about everything you could ever want for a day of shopping, from high fashion to some of Melbourne’s most loved grocers and delicatessens. The architecture will also blow you away, as natural light floods almost every space in this monolithic shopping precinct.
You have plenty of choice in Fitzroy, as you can spend the day ambling between Smith Street, Gertrude Street, Johnston Street, and Brunswick Street. Getting from this individual streets is an adventure alone, as you will likely stumble upon a new piece of street art, cafe, restaurant, pop-up store, ceramicist or just about anything in the many alleyways and streets that divide the suburb.
Dating back to 1870, Royal Arcade is the oldest arcade in Australia, and is a little piece of London in the heart of Melbourne CBD. Koko Black’s Belgian hot chocolate is just one of the drawcards here, as this arcade is packed with boutique shops offering treats, fashion, toys, and ornaments that you won’t see anywhere else in Melbourne.
One of Melbourne’s largest and most famous markets, Victoria Market is a must for any shopping trip to Melbourne. If you are going to do anything here…if you are going to walk past the rows of vibrant vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish and not buy anything…if you are going to turn your nose on the seemingly eternal number of quaint stores selling everything from ceramics to handmade gift cards, do not turn your back on the delicious Börek sold at Victoria Market’s delicatessen area.
Prahran has arguably seen some of the biggest changes as the retail landscape has shifted over the past 10-20 years. While it may not look exactly as it once did, Prahran has never lost its particularly Melbourne feel, thanks to the famous Prahran Markets, the Jam Factory, Greville Street, and the various stores that have continued to connect with the local community along Chapel Street. Come to Prahran for just about anything: markets, fashion, food, records, books, coffee, films, bikes…everything!
Heading to South Melbourne means more than just checking out its market. Yes, the South Melbourne Market is incredible, with tourists rushing to guzzle down half a dozen oysters or to check out its many boutique stalls. But South Melbourne is also famous for Clarendon Street, Coventry Street, and all the other laneways and streets that are home to an assortment of restaurants, cafes, clothing stores and more. Just like many of the other hubs listed above, South Melbourne is a place you can spend the day walking around and is only a short tram ride from the CBD.
Don’t dismiss the Mornington Peninsula as a hub for not only fashion but especially art, jewellery, food, and especially wine. Sorrento’s main street itself covers all of these areas, with access to some of Victoria’s most beautiful beaches. It is worth setting aside a full weekend to explore the peninsula’s many galleries, wineries, shops, farmer’s markets, and beaches.