The Oracle Shopping Center

The Oracle

The Oracle is a large indoor shopping and leisure mall located on the banks of the River Kennet in central Reading, UK. It takes its name from a seventeenth century workhouse that once occupied part of the site built by funds from a local man John Kendrick.

Reading Oracle
The centre contains 90 shops, including department stores from the Debenhams and House of Fraser chains. A third and larger department store, John Lewis, is adjacent to the Minster Street entrance to the mall (although this is not part of the centre itself). There are also 22 restaurants, cafes and bars along the riverside of the Kennet, and a 10 screen Vue cinema.

Although now well-respected and appreciated by local residents, the Oracle caused local controversy when first opened. The landlords of the Oracle refused flatly to sell any lots to local independent firms, even if they could afford the asking price, citing image devaluation and walk-through trade. It was also claimed that the local government sold large sections of the available retail space in the town to Wetherspoons and other pub chains, to force retailers into the Oracle and ensure it was filled. No absolute evidence of this was produced.

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