Between the exclusive designer boutiques, popular retailers and unbelievable outlets, New York is a real shopping paradise for everyone. Male or female, young or old, shopaholic or not, you can’t leave the Big Apple without making an odd purchase or two.
Whether we’ve been there or not, I think we all are a little bit in love with New York. The city just radiates this wonderful ‘anything is possible’ type of atmosphere, which is hard to put into words but makes our imagination run wild. Of course, the main priority on a trip to New York is sightseeing, closely followed by shopping. So, here are my tips for shopping in New York! With a huge selection of shops and designers in the city, there is definitely something for everyone. Even those of you who don’t plan on buying anything will find it difficult to say no to the many ways to spend your money.
Many factors contribute to New York’s status as a shopper’s paradise – it’s not just the fact that many brands are cheaper here than in the UK but also the sheer selection of well-stocked shops. The long opening hours are much more flexible than what we are used to (most shops are open until 9 pm and on Sundays), which means it’s very easy to stop at a couple of shops as well as making sure you see all the sights. Lots of holidaymakers cleverly bring a spare suitcase to fill with their purchases. New York City has always been a fashion capital – the latest trends are created here and you can be among the first to buy them in the shops.
However, there are a few things that you should be aware of before you hit the shops. Prices are generally shown without VAT included, so for a single purchase of $110 (each item counts separately), 8.875% would be added at the till. You should also bear in mind that there is a limit to the value of goods that can be imported back to the UK tax-free. For the UK, you can bring back non-restricted goods up to the value of £390 without having to pay any duty or tax. If you spend more than that, you’ll have to declare it at customs and pay the tax upon your return to the country.
Shopping Hotspots in Manhattan
I’m sure you will all have heard of the famous shopping streets like Fifth Avenue and Broadway. In Macy’s, the most popular department store in the city, you’ll find everything your heart could possibly desire all under one roof. The Meatpacking District, on the other hand, is an insider tip, which has slowly but surely evolved into New York’s newest fashion district.
Luxury shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York
Fifth Avenue – we associate luxury and glamour with this world-famous street, especially the part in New York’s Upper East Side. The rich and famous live and shop here because this street along with Madison Avenue, which runs parallel to it, are full of the flagship stores of all the biggest designers. If you want to shop in Calvin Klein, Prada or the luxury department stores, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks, or simply want to window shop, you’re absolutely in the right place here. Even if the shops here are out of your budget, you shouldn’t miss out on visiting Fifth Avenue while shopping in New York. You simply must see the famous NikeTown and the huge Apple Store as well as Abercrombie & Fitch! There are even lower-priced stores such as H&M between all the luxury shops.
Broadway – stroll along the street that stretches across the Big Apple
Broadway stretches for about 13 miles right across Manhattan Island. If you want to walk the length of it, you’ll need about half a day – and that’s without even stopping to go into any shops – but it’s worth it! Not only do you get to see the city from all its angles and get a feel of how the New Yorkers live, you’ll also pass a few shops which you might want to pop into. You can’t walk along Broadway without getting the urge to spend money because Broadway is not only the world’s leading choice for theatre but also for shopping. In countless shops like Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s and many more, there’s something to suit every style and every budget.
It’s best to start in the north at Columbus Circle, a small but lovely shopping centre, and then work your way through Soho, heading south to Union Square. You’ll pass Times Square along the way, which is without a doubt one of the absolute highlights of every New York trip. Some of the craziest megastores such as M&M World and the Disney Store are in Times Square. Where Broadway meets 35th street, you’ll find Macy’s Department Store, which tops everything. There is an unbelievable selection of all the popular brands under one roof. And the best part? If you register as a tourist, you get 10% off everything in addition to the many other sales and discounts they offer. You’re bound to find a bargain at Macy’s!
Shop ’til you drop in the Meatpacking District
If you’re looking for some more original items that you might not find in Europe, the Meatpacking District in south-west Manhattan is particularly popular. Here, you can shop in the exclusive boutiques just like the girls from Sex in the City. The district where there used to be nothing but slaughterhouses (hence the somewhat unusual name) and nightclubs has been rapidly developed since it was voted the “most fashionable neighbourhood” by New York Magazine in 2004. However, as it is becoming trendier and trendier, the prices are rising. Taking a small break from shopping on the High Line is also rather nice.
Outlet shopping in New York
If you have time to take a little day trip outside of the city during your break in New York, then you can enjoy everything I’ve already told you about but you can also save some money! It may sound a little unbelievable at first but outlets are popular places to shop in the USA. Compared to shopping in the centre of Manhattan, you may not always find the latest products in the outlets but you can buy the basics and timeless pieces at heavily reduced prices. Let me introduce you to my favourite two on the outskirts of New York.
Shopping at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
With an amazing 200 shops, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets really does have everything you could possibly want. Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Banana Republic, GAP, Levi’s, Superdry, Timberland and American Eagle Outfitters are just a few brands from the huge selection of shops here. You can also find some real luxury labels such as Burberry, Chanel and Gucci, who offer their sought-after products at reduced prices. You can get to the outlet very easily from the Port Authority Bus Terminal by taking the number 7 bus. It’s best to make your way there fairly early in the morning as you’ll most likely need a whole day to get the complete shopping experience.
I have a few useful tips for you so that you can make the most of your time here. It’s best to rent a locker for $10 so that you can safely store your purchases throughout the day. If you seriously plan to shop ’til you drop then it might even be a good idea to have a suitcase to put all your shopping in to safely take it back to your hotel. It’s also worth finding out information about the discount booklet which can get you even better deals. As you will realise, the prices here are in no way comparable to our sales in the UK!
The Mills at Jersey Gardens – save even more VAT
As the name suggests, The Mills at Jersey Gardens outlet is located in the state of New Jersey, where, in contrast to New York, there is no VAT. Visiting this outlet is especially worthwhile if you are looking for something elegant and classy. It may be a little further out but it’s only 40 minutes from Manhattan. Buses 111 and 115 can also get you there from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Some of the highlights at Jersey Gardens are Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger, Hollister and Levi’s, to name just a few. Just like at Woodbury Common, you can get a coupon booklet with extra discounts, which you can get your hands on for free by showing your foreign passport. What more could you want than to find great buys AND save money?
As you can see, the range of shops in New York is simply enormous! There are so many hotspots that I have only been able to tell you about the very best ones in this article. Honestly, there’s hardly a corner of this city where you can’t go shopping. Definitely don’t write off any of New York’s other districts! And, if you’re a real bargain hunter, then I’m sure you’re already planning to visit an outlet on your next visit to New York, right?