Our writer Rachel McAlley took her 6 year old daughter for an afternoon shopping at McArthurGlen York, only this trip was all about shopping for her 6 year old, nothing purchased (aside from dinner) was to be for Rachel.  Let’s see if it was an enjoyable experience shall we…….

The shopping trip at at McArthurGlen straight after school, it was easy to park very close to the main doors, and when inside the centre it was quiet enough to enjoy spending time in each store without any queues, which is always a bonus.

The premise of this little trip was to see if my 6 year old could enjoy shopping when everything we bought was to be for her, it was after all her 7th birthday in the next couple of days.

So, first stop on my daughter’s preferred list was Build-A-Bear, she already had a bear and desperately wanted some advice on new clothes for ‘Strawberry Heart’. The staff were extremely accommodating, they sought out and offered advice on the best outfits to suit the bear, they took my daughter to see the clothing that was on offer and in the sale, and they even helped in the decision making process. This was a huge success, ‘Strawberry Heart’ was lucky to get 3 brand new outfits from Build-A-Bear, and we had a very happy little girl.

Our second port of call, at the request of the 6 year old was the Cadbury store, and she was totally in her element surrounded by chocolates. She opted for the pick n mix and could put them in a nice presentation gift box, which again made her day!

Next stop was dinner, we were all hungry; mum, dad and daughter. Obviously dinner was her decision, and she chose pizza so we visited Pizza Express, who are brilliant at catering for children. After much deliberation we all opted for pizza of one kind or another, and it was a whirlwind meal as our daughter was eager to shop shop shop.

After dinner we went for a stroll around the centre, looking at all the fabulous designer stores and mentally making notes for our next visit, which was almost certainly going to include a few more grown-up shops.

Chomping at the bit our daughter was ready to step into Claire’s, and as most parents know this can both a time consuming and costly experience, because everything is seriously appealing to a young girl. From the headbands and hair clips to the jewellery and accessories, you really can find yourself weighed down by sparkle, glitter and pink – this is a 6 year olds dream destination! She left with a fluffy pink notepad, a large squishy, and a funky lip balm.

With plans for a new ‘big girl’ bedroom on the horizon the next choice of store was to be Paperchase, where a lot of desktop items could be picked up at a reasonable price. From the second she walked through the door her basket was full to overflowing, there were huge A4 sized pink shiny file boxes, a shimmering desktop organiser, multi-purpose new ruler, shiny gold and pink note pads, pencils with flamingos on top, a box of rubbers, plus paperclips, post-it notes and a keyring with her initial on it. This was definitely the haul of all hauls for a 6 year olds first personal shopping experience.

Now that she had visited all the shops she fancied it was time to go outdoors to the fully covered kids play area. The shopping was literally dumped at out feet and she ran off into the sunset towards the climbing frames, slides, tubes and hop scotch mat and didn’t resurface for over half an hour.

At this point of the day it was getting late, and we were in need of a coffee, so we called at the outside pop-up van for a coffee, a hot chocolate and a little multi-flavoured multi-coloured slushy for a very happy 6 year old. Sadly, we had to make our way home then as it was a school night, but it was a definite winner for all involved.

This was so much fun for our daughter, she has even decided that McArthurGlen is where she wants to do all the Christmas shopping for friends and family, and she had her eye on Ralph Lauren, UGG, Thorntons, and The Body Shop, which she said were all good shops for mummy’s presents, and I can’t disagree with that!

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet York is open 7-days per week,10am until 8pm (Mon – Fri), 9am until 8pm (Sat), and 10am – 6pm (Sun), with over 120 stores, and hundreds of free parking spaces. There is a play area for children, and during school holidays lots of entertainment/fun things to do.