It is usual for visitors to Northern Ireland to comment with surprise on the number of excellent fashion shops. Perhaps because the further away from the world’s couture capitals, such as London and Paris, the further one should get from that level of style and choice. Wrong. Northern Ireland has one of the highest levels of disposable income in the UK and that is reflected by the purchasing power and consequent levels of consumer sophistication. A fact that is not lost on Britain’s fashion houses and large brand name High Street stores. In recent years there has been a noticeable number of new names joining the existing high quality shops to the extent that prices and choice in Belfast, can match, and usually beat, most cities throughout Britain.

This gives the visitor a wonderful excuse to do more than just gift shopping. Within Belfast city centre, the choice of where to go shopping is happily quite difficult, as there are a plethora of beautifully stocked shops. Some have long standing reputations of excellence with reliable some names worth a visit for both male and female fashion. Some examples for females are Jaeger in Royal Avenue, Reger, Wellington Place, Rio/Brazil, Bradbury Place, Nora Bradley, Howard Street, Petal, Donegall Square North, and Betty Barclay in Castlecourt.

There are several top class jewellers who provide an excellent choice for gifts – or for yourself. Lunns in the Queen's Arcade off Donegall Place and Lunns II in Royal Avenue are local names, and a unique jewellery store is The Steenson's in Howard Street who specialise in custom designed individual pieces made at their workshops in Glenarm Co.Antrim. Their Belfast shop also includes other designer pieces and experienced consulting staff can explain commissing work. Malcolm's Chichester Street is another good example of quality city jewellers. Bag 'n' Baggage, 88 Botanic Avenue, is a leading leathergoods shop that can supply everything from luggage to handbags. Small leathergoods