Whether you live here or are staying in Swanage on holiday there’s a broad selection of shops for all occasions – do your weekly shop at one of the supermarkets, support local business and producers at the Friday market and independent food outlets, and pick up a gift, souvenir or refresh your home decor with a unique handmade find from a local Dorset maker.
All shops are located along a few, interconnected streets which are close to the beach, playgrounds and car parks. And being interspersed with cafés and pubs, shopping in Swanage is an easy and pleasant experience, so it’s easy to make a day of it.
Being the only town here in Purbeck, many residents of the surrounding villages use Swanage’s shops for everyday and DIY essentials – there’s the new garden centre Rudges, on your way in to town, Nixons Hardware that stocks a wide range of home maintenance essentials, and other smaller, independent shops where you’re sure to find a bargain and that item you didn’t know you needed, like in Burt’s Bits or Aladdin’s den, Curiosity.
Find a small but varied range of clothes shops on Station Road, Institute Road, and along High Street. Surfari and Forever Summer sell handy and fashionable clothes and accessories perfect for a beach holiday, such as flip flops, beach bags, sunglasses and swimming shorts, bikinis and rash vests. Forever Summer also stocks wetsuits for year-round sea swimming and watersports. Independent shops like Ocean Blue and Tilly Whims sell clothing from a range of hand-picked brands. In Jurassic Outdoors and Coast & Country you’ll find everything you need for a day out exploring the Dorset countryside including walking boots, walking poles, camping gear and some big brand names including Crew Clothing. They’re also a handy place to go if you or your child are going travelling in the UK or abroad – pick up backpacks, travel wallets and cabin-sized luggage.
If you like to have the freshest, handmade produce and ingredients for whipping up a storm in the kitchen either at home or in your holiday let, Swanage is served by every kind of shop you’ll need: there are two butchers, a fishmonger, various bakeries, and locally-produced fruit, veg, milk, eggs and homemade relishes, jams and chutneys both in the supermarkets, at the Friday market and in some cafés, which also serve as farm shops, such as the Salt Pig.
As well as many independent shops in Swanage there are a few larger, well-known chains, such as WHSmith and Boots, which are next-door to each other on Station Road. The main supermarkets in town are Budgens and Co-Op.
You’ll also find a number of pharmacies and health food shops in town. (Note: if you need medical care while you’re here on holiday, the Swanage Medical Centre will see non-resident patients, or call 111 or 999 in an emergency.)
If you’re looking for a gift or a special souvenir to take home with you, try one of Swanage’s various art galleries, such as Purbeck New Wave, Quarr Gallery and the Mulberry Tree Gallery. If you’re interested in art, Durlston Country Park also holds regular exhibitions. And there’s plenty of gift shops throughout town for children’s pocket-money toys, presents for friends and family – or even yourself! Check out Candleworld, Country Corner and Smith’s Vintage for unique finds.
Shops further afield
You’ll find a range of gift shops, food outlets, farm shops and various other independent homeware stores and galleries in the villages surrounding Swanage and two further supermarkets amongst other shops in nearby town Wareham.
Larger, well-known clothing shops and superstores are located in Poole, Bournemouth and the market town of Dorchester – the bigger towns within easy reach of the Isle of Purbeck.
Wareham, handily situated off the A351 is an old Saxon town with a number of useful shops alongside cafés, pubs and restaurants, frequented by both visitors and residents.
These include zero-waste & eco-friendly shop Bare Necessities two supermarkets (a Sainsburys & a small Co-Op), three butchers, including one at the sister-shop of Swanage’s Salt Pig, a pet shop, a bakeries, few gift shops (including the hidden gem, Purbeck Artisan Yard) and two small, but well-stocked independent hardware stores, Pond’s & Lord’s, various newsagents and pharmacies including a Boots.
Don’t forget to check out Wareham’s Saturday market on the quay.
The village of Corfe Castle has an excellent village shop – Corfe Castle Village Stores – which sells most things you’ll require either as a tourist or a resident.
There’s also a bakery, traditional sweet shop and ice cream shop, and a range of gift shops, including Aladdin’s cave Season’s Green and a large National Trust shop.
Be sure to visit the two galleries while you’re in the village – Gallery at 41 is centrally located on East Street, and tucked away behind the heritage railway station is a collective of artists called the Boilerhouse Gallery.
If you’re visiting Studland for the day or staying in a local B&B or hotel, you’ll find a good range of food and household supplies at Studland Village Stores. The shop also stocks alcohol, gifts, a small selection of children’s activity toys and has a fresh bread and pastry delivery.
Also in Studland is the well-stocked National Trust shop at Studland Bay’s Knoll Beach. It’s got a good range of seasonal items, including children’s beach toys, as well as handy accessories and essentials for walkers and their dogs.
Your nearest shopping areas besides this are either Corfe or Swanage.
The nearest large shopping centre to Swanage & the Isle of Purbeck is Poole’s Dolphin Shopping Centre, which you can access via the A351 (around a half an hour drive) and across the Sandbanks Ferry. The number 40 bus also goes directly to Poole bus station, which stops right outside the shopping centre.
You’ll find a range of large superstores, such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in Poole, and in the Dolphin Centre itself are some of high street shops such as Primark, JD Sports, Next and New Look.
There’s also a nearby retail complex which has a B&Q, Currys, Bensons for Beds, Pets At Home and McDonalds, amongst others.
The recently revamped Kingland Crescent is a must-visit for a newly-injected boutique vibe to the town, supporting a diverse range of independent coffee shops and businesses such as young artists’ Penn Gallery and the beautiful Wild Roots Greenery.
Bournemouth’s around a 45-minute drive from Swanage and has a great range of high streets shops, eateries and entertainment.
Head to the High Street and town centre for stores including Lush, Zara, House of Fraser, Flying Tiger and Clarks and check out the regular marks’ markets and gallery space in Bobby’s.
There are also shopping districts in various localities of Bournemouth including Castlepoint, Boscombe and Westbourne.
The pleasant county town of Dorchester can be easily accessed by train on the Wareham – Weymouth line (the stop you’ll need is Dorchester South), or you can drive in around 45 minutes.
You’ll find interesting mainstream fashion stores like Seasalt, White Stuff, Hobbs, Fat Face and Crew Clothing, along with a range of boutique clothing and accessory shops through the high street, Trinity Street, Antelope Walk and Brewery Square.