Shopping in New York, North America
Offering a breadth and variety of stores rarely found elsewhere in the world, New York is truly a shopper's paradise. To fully explore one of the world's best shopping destinations, start at Central Park and work your way down Fifth Avenue, past famous stores such as Tiffany, Brooks Brothers, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. Then continue downtown to the neighbourhoods of Soho and Nolita to track down the newest and trendiest boutiques.
In New York, shopping hours vary significantly from store to store. Generally, stores open at 10am or 11am Monday through Saturday and close at either 6pm or 7pm. Both opening and closing hours get later as you move downtown; stores often open at 1pm or 2pm and close at 8pm or later. Most of the major department stores open late on Thursday until 9pm or 10pm and the majority of large shops are open seven days a week, while smaller boutiques may close one day a week. Sunday hours are usually 12 noon until 5pm or 6pm.
Each state in USA applies its own sales tax. In New York City the sales tax amounts to 8.375 per cent, and is not added to clothing and footwear items under USD110. Unfortunately, there is no refund for the sales tax, although some shops may offer to waive the tax for a cash (non credit card) payment.
New York's prime sales occur (almost throughout the year) on all the major public holidays including Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, President's Day and Columbus Day. You can also expect pre- and post-Christmas sales, whites in January (a sale of bed linens), January and midsummer clearance sales and back-to-school sales.
Haute couture and cutting-edge fashions, handmade shoes, bags, leather goods and jewellery.
Best shopping areas
For most visitors, Manhattan is New York. The island is divided into three areas: Downtown (south of 14th Street), Midtown (from 14th Street to Central Park/59th Street) and Uptown (north of 59th Street). Fifth Avenue, which runs the length of Manhattan, south to north, divides 'the east side' from 'the west side'. Here's a run-down of New York's best shopping neighbourhoods.
Madison Avenue Home to the United States' top advertising agencies as well as some of New York's most luxurious designer boutiques. Choose from Gucci, Hermès, Prada, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro. Or perhaps you prefer Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior, Bvlgari, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani or Ralph Lauren. Don't walk past chic Barneys, a New York clothing institution and a mecca for discerning fashionistas since 1923. Madison Avenue runs from 23rd Street to 138th Street.
Columbus Avenue The shops at Columbus Circle mall, in the Time Warner Centre, feature some of the biggest (and most expensive) names in retail. Located just off the south-west corner of Central Park, the four storey-high mall is two city blocks long and offers shoppers great views of Central Park. Drop into Williams Sonoma, A/X Armani Exchange, Coach, Hugo Boss, Joseph Abboud, Eileen Fisher, Thomas Pink and Border's Books.
One-Two-Five Street On 1-2-5 Street between St Nicholas Avenue and Fifth Avenue, you can find big chains stores such as Old Navy, The Children's Store, H&M, The Body Shop, Starbucks and Modell's. As this is Harlem, you can also expect funky hip-hop boutiques such as Jimmy Jazz and Jersey Man Cap USA. For the hottest tracks in jazz, gospel, R&B, doo-wop and hip-hop, check out Record Shack.
Herald Square Site of the self-proclaimed world's biggest department store - Macy's, a 10-storey behemoth that covers an entire city block. The store is huge and noisy, but they do sell everything. Located where 34th Street, Sixth Avenue and Broadway converge.
Times Square For the latest tunes, pop into Richard Branson's Virgin Megastore and, to please the kids, spend some time inside the fun-filled Toys "R" Us flagship store on Broadway and 44th Street.
The Diamond District Tune-up your wheeling-and-dealing skills before hitting the world's largest market for diamonds and you may end up with a bargain rock or a piece of fine jewellery. More than 90 per cent of all diamonds sold in the United States pass through the diamond shops that crowd West 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Shops are open Monday through Friday only. A second, smaller and older jewellery district focusing more on jewellery pieces is located on the north-west corner of Bowery and Canal Street.
Fifth Avenue and 57th Street Discover the heart of Manhattan's retail district, stretching from Fifth Avenue to 57th Street. The section from 49th Street to 59th Street is regarded as one of the premier shopping streets in the world. Here you can browse the tantalising luxuries on sale at Sax Fifth Ave, Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Gucci, Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuittons' huge flagship store. Nearby sit a number of mainstream retailers including Niketown, the NBA Store and Banana Republic, as well as well-known designers such as Versace, Chanel, Dior and Cartier.
Union Square/The Flatiron District Best known for home furnishings and textiles in large chain stores such as Bed, Bath, & Beyond; Filene's Basement; and DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse). You can also find small and hip boutiques in this area. Located from 14th to 34th streets, between Sixth and Park avenues.
Chelsea It you want to buy art, this is the place to go - at last count there were more than 200 art galleries in Chelsea. Also look out for trendy boutiques and yummy restaurants. Located between 14th and 34th streets, west of Sixth Avenue.
Greenwich Village For something quirky or unusual head to the Village - probably the best area for browsing charming specialty bookstores, record stores, vintage clothing shops, antiques and craft shops and gourmet food markets. Look out for footpath artists selling everything from handcrafted jewellery to paintings. Located on Houston Street to 14th Street, from the East River to the Hudson.
Meat-Packing District Browse big-name designers such as Stella McCartney (429 West 14th Street), Christian Louboutin (59 Horatio Street) and Alexander McQueen (417 West 14th Street). Check out the amazing shoe collections and high-priced designer clothes at Jeffrey New York and for sophisticated French design pieces, including lighting fixtures and wall décor, try Guéridon (37 West 20th Street).
Soho Stroll the narrow cobblestone streets past elegant cast-iron architecture to browse some of New York's trendiest chain stores and one-of-a-kind boutiques, which have now supplanted many of the artists' lofts that once inhabited the neighbourhood's historic buildings. For ultramodern chrome and asymmetrical goodies, pop into the cutting-edge Museum of Modern Art Design Store. Don't miss the numerous art galleries throughout the Soho area, which stretches from Houston Street south to Canal and from Lafayette to Sixth Avenue.
Broadway Along this commercial strip you can find Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, Sephora and A/X Armani Exchange, as well as the Swedish department store, H&M. Or check out Bloomingdales' and Pradas' flagship Broadway store. Don't miss the two-storey Pearl River Chinese emporium, which offers everything from delicate porcelain tea sets to silk cheongsams.
Nolita Explore wall-to-wall boutiques specialising in high-quality ethnic designs from around the world. Check out the Indian-style beaded tunics at Indomix and colourful slip dresses, skirts and tops at Tracy Feith on Mulberry Street. For great shoe designs, stop in at Sigerson Morrison on Prince Street. The area runs along Elizabeth, Mott and Mulberry streets between Houston Street and the Bowery.
Lower Manhattan and The Financial District Find stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, the Sunglass Hut, Century 21 - the king of discount department stores, and electronics megamart J&R, one of the best places to buy everything from cameras to computers.
Chinatown As well as authentic Asian food, you can discover a range of exotic shops selling clothing and leather goods, foods and herbs. This area is full of street vendors hawking everything knock-off, including sunglasses, watches, backpacks, leather goods and exotic souvenirs. It's best to bargain before you buy. (Note: Avoid bootleg CDs, videos and software - these could be stolen goods). Mott Street, between Pell Street and Chatham Square, is home to a range of fascinating Chinese antiques shops.
The Lower East Side Look out for deals on leather bags, shoes, luggage, linens and fabrics on the bolt, along the so-called Historic Orchard Street Shopping District, which runs from Houston to Canal along Allen, Orchard and Ludlow streets and along both sides of Delancey Street. This is a good place for trendy, up-to-the-minute fashions and edgy club clothes, plus funky retro furnishings, Japanese toys and offbeat items. Stop in at the Lower East Side Visitor Centre (261 Broome Street) for a shopping guide.
If you feel a bit intimidated by all the shopping options of Manhattan, consider taking a shopping tour. Try Shop Gotham for a walking tour of SoHo, Fifth Avenue and the Garment Centre or a 'big store tour' to visit stores such as Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Century 21. Tours range from two to four hours and cost anywhere from USD25 to USD85.
Best time to visit
Any time, but best in spring, from March to June, and autumn, from September to November. Summer in New York is hot and humid. The summer average temperature is 29°C, while winter averages 2°C.
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