By far the best and most exciting opening yesterday was the new Debenhams store and, when the store officially opened at 10am, shoppers literally ran through to doors.
The department store has completely overhauled its image with a glossy new black and white shop fit with large dedicated areas to its new "power" brands including the likes of Star by Julien Macdonald and Rocha by John Rocha. A branded handbag zone and new blowdry and brow bars in the beauty hall all add to the excitement.
Of course its whopping 125,000sq ft space spread over four floors has helped enormously with the overall look of Debenhams. So much so that the product is almost unrecogniseable. Top marks here.
It was a similar story at footwear retailer Faith. It's new Liverpool store opened in the centre yesterday and it proved to be one of the busiest shops in the centre. Concertina walls, smoked glass display units, trend tables and luxurious looking windows are a vast improvement on some of its older stores and Liverpool lasses were definitely lapping it up. Again, the product sung against the new backdrop but these are the same shoes that until recently, were on a buy one get one half price promotion in the rest of the portfolio. Proof indeed that a strong shopfit is essential to the overall retail experience.
Sadly, Barratts was not yet open but a peek through the window revealed what is a radical change for the footwear chain. This store certainly looks impressive and it will be interesting to experience it this autumn, when an overhauled product package lands.
Meanwhile, Inditex opened its first Pull and Bear store in the UK. The storefit here was also excellent and in the mould of Abercrombie & Fitch with its dark and atmospheric environment. For more on this see next weeks' Drapers magazine.
Other stores worthy of note were George Davies' Liverpool FC shop which was heaving and sold far more than just replica shirts and long red socks. LFC branded jeans or cargo shorts anyone? Davies has created an entire clothing offer for football fans here and livened up the experience too with interactive ordering from terminals and moving rails to deliver styles to the shop floor as well as a couple of Nintendo Wii consoles running football games. A central spiral staircase was another impressive feature. This will undoubtedly be a hit with shoppers, but with such a passionate target audience it would be hard for it not to be.
Sports Direct had also spent some money on its new store in the centre. Yes, really. The store had some new signage and fixtures and plasma screens and even a running machine to help staff match customers to the right trainers. Astonishingly there was even some full price merchandise in the more technical departments. It certainly looks like Mike Ashley's concept may be evolving.
Elsewhere the middle market women's chains let the side down, bringing rather ordinary white-box store concepts to the city and really rather ordinary product. Tellingly, there weren't many shopping bags around bearing the names of these retailers. As in the rest of the country there were Primark bags galore.
What this proves is yes times are tough, but that demonstrates it's even more important to differentiate your all round offer and some of these retailers really must do better and this left the Drapers distinctly underwhelmed by the centre so far.
As for Liverpool's independents and the nearby Met Quarter, Liverpool One will undoubtedly impact sales for the short term because of the novelty factor, but these stores remain the place to go for something different and distinct.
Have you been to Liverpool One? What was your impression and how do you think it will affect local independents and trade in nearby cities like Manchester and Chester? Post your comments in the box below.