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Shop in New York

Shopping basics

Keep in mind that prices are always quoted without the 7% sales tax, so don’t get caught out at the register. However, any individual clothing item priced less than USD 110 is exempt of the tax.

Sales season

A true New Yorker will never knowingly pay full price for anything, so it's no wonder that the sales are probably the best in the world. No occasion is too small to have a mini sale (anniversary sale! Mid-season sale! Back to school sale! Mid-mid season sale!) but the main ones start around Christmas and mid June. Discounts are high from the beginning – 40-60% is the norm to start - so the best stuff sells furiously fast.

You’ll find the deepest discounts – often as much as 70-85% off – in department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, with an additional 10-20% on the day if you can provide documentation to apply for a store card. Go shopping with a friend who works for the store and you may qualify for an employee discount as well, to practically get your bounty for free.

Sample sales

Barneys’ twice-yearly off-site warehouse sale is legendary while many year-round bargain hunters profess to Century 21, but designers have sample sales all year round. Check the women's shopping newsletter Daily Candy for the best round-up of sales; predictably however, most of the listings are focused on more female-friendly items.

Shopping hours

Shops generally keep hours between 11 and 19 most days. In Manhattan most shops are open for Sunday shopping between 12-18.

Where to shop

Look at our overview of New York's shopping areas and districts for more information on this. Also check out our directory of our favourite shops in New York.

What to buy in New York

European designer labels are generally more expensive here after taking account of the sales tax, but seasonal promotions and special discounts ensure that there are always a lot of good deals around. The real bargains, however, are on American casualwear labels such as Ralph Lauren Polo, Abercrombie & Fitch, and the like. Sporting goods are typically also cheap – visit a place like Paragon Sports for the best bargains.

Electronics may initially seem cheap, but be aware that usually-included basic accessories like shoulder straps, batteries or chargers may be charged apart, that some discounts are mail-in refund vouchers available only to US residents, and remember that the sales tax comes on top.

What to bring home

Plenty of designers call New York home, at least in spirit, like Marc Jacobs, John Varvatos or Tom Ford, but the real attraction of New York shopping, besides the limp dollar, is the choice available. The variety isn’t just in the number of shops, but designers often carry a better assortment in their flagship stores here than anywhere else - even their home markets.

Denim lovers are particularly spoiled and not only in the everyman department; this, after all, is where the 4,000 dollar jeans (from AOP Jeans) made their debut. Head to stores like Barneys, where you’re sure to find all the hottest denim labels that you’ve never heard including, including the handmade Gilded Age jeans and celebrity faves PRPS. Whatever floats your boat - remember to bring an empty extra suitcase.