The centre of Rotherham is a compact, hilly area which doesn't take long to walk around. There is on-street and off-street parking in many parts of the town. There is a large bus station on the edge of town and a railway station a little further out.
For many years Rotherham was your traditional busy market town with department stores and a wide variety of shops selling just about everything. Sadly this has changed. The virtual death of the coal industry in the 1970s combined with the decline in the traditional heavy industries which had been the mainstay of the town left much unemployment and poverty in their wake. The Co-op, Muntus' and John Speed's Department stores and innumerable other long-standing traditional businesses closed down during these years.
The outdoor and indoor markets were moved from their old traditional site not far from Rotherham Minster on Domine Lane and Market Street many years ago and the focus of the town moved north eastwards too. The Tesco supermarket has also moved to this side of town in 2014. Pedestrianisation, anti-car policies, the development of Parkgate Shopping and the huge mall at Meadowhall have all contributed to Rotherham's decline, as have the changes in people's shopping habits.
The centre of Rotherham today is only a pale shadow of a once-thriving town. So besides the charity shops, hairdressers, building societies, mobile phone shops and card shops what is there in Rotherham in the 21st Century? The only BIG names left in town are Wilkinson, Boots, WH Smith and Tesco. However there have been schemes and initiatives which have brought many small traders to town and some of them have survived.
For a town and borough the size of Rotherham you are strictly limited with your choice of food shops. The presence of the Tesco supermarket in town and the convenience of nearby Morrisons and Asda stores, not to mention Lidl and Aldi, have obviously taken a deal of the food trade.
There was a very healthy selection of bakers, some local and some nationwide chains, which must keep going on the back of the sandwich trade. However Cooplands the Bakers went into liquidation about the end of 2014 and I understand that two of the Rotherham shops have been closed.
Except for two shops, butchers are confined to the Market Hall and most supply the sort of pre-packaged meat customers are used to picking up in the supermarket and who can blame them! There's one cheese stall in the inside market but the French would flinch at it. There is one fish stall in the inside market with a very limited range of fresh fish; also a lad who stands in the outside market. There is one wine and spirits merchant with a very poor choice of anything other than the popular brands. If you are looking for something special in any of these lines you won't get them here. There are excellent fruit and vegetables stalls in the market hall and the outside market.
The Imperial Buildings
Built in 1900s these were renovated some years ago. In 2015 he building is full of independent retailers (not one unit is empty) making it a unique place to shop or to take coffee with a friend looking out over the Minster.
The musical life of Rotherham is very healthy indeed and the town still manages to maintain a few specialist music shops. Notes Xtravaganza can be found at 38 Centenary Market Hall, DL Guitars & Accessories at 91 Wellgate, and The Piano & Drum Centre which is in an old chapel right out on Westgate/Canklow Road. Guitar Bazaar is on the part of Effingham Street on the far side of the flyover.
There are all sorts of cheap clothing shops in town: Primark, Ethel Austin. There were some much better quality shops too, but many of these have closed. I really must take a trip around town to see what's what in 2015.
There were several bridal shops in town. I think some of them hire out hats and men's formal clothes. However a glance around town in Febrary 2015 revealed that some have closed.
Hambys is the only class shoe retailer in town. It has moved from the top of High Street to a refitted shop further down High Street. There are a number of budget shoe shops in town, and stalls both in the inside and outside markets.
Arts & Crafts
If you are intending to buy craft items there are a number of shops in town where you can get that gift that is different and special.