Marks & Spencer - 2-28 St Nicholas Street, St Nicholas Shopping Centre
Product is generally uninspiring, with the only standouts coming from the Limited Edition range, which has an oriental-print bomber as well as 1960s-style orange and pastel shifts, although they might not target the core Marks & Spencer customer. Much of the rest comprises basics such as shirts and knits in various shades of blue, which is a step back from other branches, where more trend-led elements are available. Some pop art brights can be seen in the M&S Collection on graphic-print blouses.
Size range is generally well covered, with a good range of options from eight to 22. However, Autograph is cramped into a small space between the escalator and wall, where there is hardly any room to manoeuvre.
M&S has plenty of items that offer great value, with pieces such as cashmere jumpers priced at £99 a bargain, or pure linen shirts for £29.50.
A waterproof parka with quilted tartan lining is £89 and feels nicer than comparable styles in Next. Jeans are around the £20 mark and the fabric fits and stretches better than similarly priced items in New Look. However, some items, such as black dungarees for £49.50, cannot compete with similar, cheaper options in River Island.
Sales assistants in the changing rooms were not particularly friendly, which is unusual for M&S, and the cubicles are surprisingly dirty.
Visual Merchandising 3/10
The store is messier than Primark, which is notoriously untidy. Much of it is in Sale, with confusing and randomly placed red tags on mannequins, and it is unclear if this is new product or Sale. In some cases, product on mannequins is nowhere to be seen, while other table displays have random items such as unfolded jumpers and one shoe. Touchscreens for online browsing add points, but overall the store is a real letdown compared with other branches of M&S.