For me a big part of any New York City trip is shopping. I love to shop. And I can go on for hours (ask my family, they all had to suffer endless shopping trips with me over the years… and lived to tell the tale).
Whilst there are loads of shopping opportunities in London, New York City is a totally different ball game.
Our first trip to New York was mainly touristy things and sightseeing, but the more we returned, the more we skipped the tourist attractions and enjoyed the city instead. With all it had to offer, including all its shopping. Chances are I have spent more hours in Macy’s than I did in the MoMA (but only because Macy’s doesn’t charge admission … obviously).
I am not saying you should fly over to New York just for shopping (I am not saying it aloud, but I might whisper it into your ear), but IF you happen to be in New York for sightseeing, it would be rude not to schedule in some shopping time as well. Wouldn’t you agree? I mean after all it is part of the ultimate New York City experience. Along with all the great food New York has to offer.
So here you have it, my five pence worth of advice when it comes to the best shopping places in New York.
My ultimate shopping guide to New York City for any budget.
Please note: This is not a sponsored post and no affiliate links are included. All recommendations are my own, I do not earn a commission on any of this.
First up: What is the main shopping street in New York City?
Well, the most famous shopping street in New York for sure is Fifth Avenue. And there is no way you can experience New York without strolling down Fifth Avenue at least once. But it might just be window-shopping, depending on your shopping budget.
Fifth Avenue is home to all the big names, Tiffany & Co, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks.
But lucky for you, Fifth Avenue isn’t the only place to go shopping in New York.
But that said, if you head further down on Fifth Avenue (so away from Central Park), you would also find your standard high-street brands, such as H&M, Zara and the likes.
So where are the best shopping places in New York?
The thing I really love about shopping in New York is the variety. You can get pretty much everything. And you can get some really great bargains, if you know where to look. Sounds intriguing?
No matter where in New York you go, there will always be shops around. And same as all districts in New York have their own kind of identity, so have the shops there.
From high-end fashion designers to vintage clothing, handmade and unique pieces to cheap designer bargains, you can find it all in New York City. You just need to know where to look.
Or even better, just keep your eyes open and take in all your surroundings. You’ll be amazed what you can find.
So let me share with you my best shopping places in New York (and please note that my shopping experience usually is a mix of bargain hunting in New York and designer shopping on a budget).
Macy’s Herald Square
My absolute favourite shop in New York City is Macy’s flagship store on Herald Square (on the corner of Broadway and 34th Street). For years it had been the largest department store in the world (and it still is number two) and on its 9 floors you will get everything you can imagine. Yes, Macy’s might be a little pricy overall, but I somehow always managed to bag myself some really good bargains here. My advice: Don’t rush it. Take your time; explore all the floors and find those sales corners, they can be a little hidden occasionally.
If you visit as a tourist, don’t forget to head to the mezzanine level first to claim your visitor’s pass (bring your passport or ID card with you). This entitles you to a 10% discount when shopping at Macy’s (not on all items, but on pretty much all full priced items).
When shopping in New York (well anywhere in the US really), you must remember that on top of the price shown, you will have to pay sales tax. For New York City this comes to around 8.5%. But only on clothing that is above $110 dollars. It can all be very confusing sometimes and it seems a lot of times sales advisors don’t know either. So rule of thumb, be prepared for an extra 10% (a lot easier to calculate in your head that 8.5%) and be pleasantly surprised if the item you are intending to buy isn’t applicable for said sales tax.
If you are looking to do some plus size shopping in New York, Macy’s is sheer heaven. I was pleasantly surprised first time I stumbled across Macy’s plus size department. Which actually occupies half a floor, not just a few sad racks tucked into a back corner, like in so many other places.
Head up to the seventh floor and spend hours trying on beautiful plus size designer clothing from labels such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors (before I discovered Macy’s plus size department, I didn’t even know these labels made plus size clothing).
Another one of my favourites shops is Century 21. Again an ideal destination if you are bargain hunting in New York, as you can find great designer labels at very affordable prices (I mean who could say NO to a Karl Lagerfeld Little Black Dress for less than $30? Or a Tommy Hilfiger jacket for $25?). But where Macy’s is calm and sophisticated, Century 21 can be very hectic and crowded, especially its location down by the World Trade Center.
First time I set foot into that store, I was in and out within 5 minutes. I just could not bear it. It was full of people, everyone was pushing and shoving and it was sheer chaos (a bit like heading to Primark on Oxford Street on a Saturday in the run up to Christmas – something I wouldn’t dream of doing, I am not suicidal). So I didn’t really explore it much and completely failed to notice the great (and cheap) things they had.
But on subsequent visits, we ventured out further and discovered a really great Century 21 store out in Brooklyn Heights (on Fulton Street). Whilst this might take a tad longer to get to, this store is a lot less crowded and chaotic and therefore a much nicer shopping experience). Oh and if all that shopping makes you hungry, head down to the basement and explore the Dekalb Market Hall. Believe me, it is well worth it.
There is a third Century 21 store on Upper West Side, just above Columbus Circle. But whilst I like the location (more on that further down), the store itself is old and small and not very nice to browse.
Fulton Street, Brooklyn
But talking of Brooklyn, Fulton Street in general is a great shopping location, especially if you are after cheap shopping in New York. It is easily accessible by subway (take the Q train and it is only 2 stops from Macy’s 34th Street) and you will find lots of outlet shops there. Not just the above mentioned Century 21, but also the outlet shops of Gap, Old Navy, American Eagle, Anne Taylor and Swarovski (to name just a few), as well as TJ Maxx (if you live in Europe you might be more familiar with the name TK Maxx, but it is the same thing really)
And if you need a little distraction from all that bargain hunting in New York, you can head a little further down Fulton Street and visit the New York Transit Museum, located in a disused subway station on Schermerhorn Street. Or just send your husband and kids there whilst you continue shopping.
Lower Manhattan / Soho
Explore the area around Spring Street / Broadway. You will find plenty of high street brands here (and loads of sportswear labels, if you are looking for that kind of thing), all in a rather picturesque setting, conveniently sprinkled with loads of nice coffee shops and restaurants. And you can find the MoMA design store here (so you can at least pick up some art related souvenirs and postcards, in case you don’t quite make it to the MoMA itself in between all that shopping).
Meatpacking District / West Village
Located at the southern end of the Highline Park, this area has undergone massive refurbishment over the years and is nowadays a trendy area for shopping, dining and clubbing. You will find an eclectic mix of designer stores, boutiques and vintage stores here (although all a little pricy, so not necessarily the best location for bargain hunting in New York).
The Meatpacking District is also home to the Chelsea Market, an indoor food market with loads of restaurants as well as cooking / food related shops.
Upper West Side
I have mentioned the Century 21 store on UWS earlier. And though I wouldn’t necessarily go there just for that store, I do like the area and there are plenty of other stores around, making it another convenient shopping district.
Start at Columbus Circle, head to the Time Warner Center first for some high end retail stores (and a large Wholefood Market in the basement, if you feel peckish). Walk up Broadway and enjoy a variety of shops, from high-street brands like Zara and Banana Republic to (yet another) Apple Store, several home furnishing stores (like Bed Bath & Beyond), all the way up to W72nd Street, where you will find the Bloomingdale’s Outlet store.
What time do shops close in NYC?
Shops are generally open seven days a week in New York City. But the actual opening hours vary depending on shop and location.
Most fashion shops will be open from 9 or 10 in the morning to at least 7 or 8 in the evening. Macy’s for example is open until 10pm most evenings, whilst the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue is open 24/7. So if you are planning on visiting a specific shop, it might be worth checking their website for the opening hours, to avoid unnecessary travel and disappointment.
There you have it. My Guide to Bargain Hunting and Shopping in New York. Hope you enjoyed it.
Over to you. Tell me, which is your favourite shopping district in New York?