If you are intending to do a lot of shopping in NYC, then you've come to the right place.
We are local tour guides with decades' worth of shopping experience in NYC, and we offer our own shopping tours.
We also have content on shopping at outlet malls.
In the video below, Katie, a tour guide with us, Free Tours by Foot NYC, explains how to get to and navigate Woodbury Common.
This post is a collaboration of our experiences as locals as well as the advice from members of our NYC Travel Tips Facebook group.
Engage with locals, like our guides, expats, veteran tourists, as well as newbies to the city.
So, without further ado, here is our take on the best shopping areas in New York City, organized by neighborhood.
- Midtown Manhattan
- Lower Manhattan
- Outlet Malls
- Must-know Information for Shoppers
- Best Places to Get Souvenirs
- New York Shopping Tours
This includes Herald Square, Fifth Ave between 42nd and 59th Street, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square.
Herald Square & Macy's
It’s one-stop-shopping at Macy's Herald Square, the largest store in the world! Whatever you are shopping for, you’ll find it here.
Apparel, home decor, jewelry, cosmetics, accessories, kitchenwares, the list goes on and on.
Macy’s prices vary -- you can find clothing for under $10 and haute couture for thousands of dollars.
What we really love about Macy’s is that there are sales every day.
Our first stop when shopping at Macy's is the discount racks in the clothing departments with up to 50% off our favorite brands.
Sometimes the discount racks are readily visible, but sometimes you have to go to the back of the department, often in the corners to find the best deals.
When we're up at Macy's we take a peek at the chain stores in Herald Square (the intersection of Broadway, Sixth Avenue, and W. 34th Street)
The H&M flagship store is here (it's massive!) as well as Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Zara, and Victoria’s Secret, plus lots of shoe and sneaker stores.
Here's a directory of stores.
TIP: If you bought the NYC Sightseeing Pass, a tourist attraction discount pass, you’ll get 15% off sale and clearance items! To redeem your savings, go to the Visitor Center on the 2 ½ floor.
Learn about NYC tourist attraction discount passes.
Fifth Avenue between 42nd Street and 59th Street
It’s one of the most famous - and expensive - shopping streets in the world.
We have to confess that this isn't our first destination if we are going to do some major shopping.
But if we are in that area with time to kill, there are some shops we’ll pop into.
On the affordable end, there’s Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike, Puma, H&M, Aldo, Banana Republic, Uniqlo, Sketchers, and more.
On the outrageously expensive end, there are luxury boutiques like Dior, Chanel, Armani, Prada, Armani, and many others.
Tiffany’s & Co. is an iconic 5th Avenue shop and you should absolutely go take a peek. The salespeople won't mind you coming in for the best window shopping experience!
Two famous department stores on 5th Ave. are Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Even with sales, these stores are beyond our pay grade!
Both stores and others on 5th Avenue are included in our pay-what-you-wish holiday lights tour.
Here's a directory of shops.
TIP: If you need free internet or to recharge your iPhone stop in the Apple store at 5th Avenue and 59th Street across from the Plaza Hotel.
This isn't a shopping destination, per se, but Rockefeller Center is a destination unto itself so you may be up in the area.
Check out our free self-guided tour.
The shopping is pretty decent here, depending on your budget.
There are shops like Free People, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors. Anthropologie is a favorite for home decor or clothing.
For those traveling with kids, you may find yourself here. There’s the LEGO Store, Nintendo NY, PIQ, and American Doll.
FAO Schwarz is there.
Some of us were lucky when we were younger to visit the original location on 5th Ave and play on the giant piano keyboard from “Big”
You are in luck though since the keyboard is at the new location!
You can buy one-of-a-kind souvenirs in The Shop at NBC Studios.
Find items from shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, Friends, Seinfeld, and others.
Here’s a directory of stores.
Columbus Circle is at W. 59th Street and Broadway (the southwest corner of Central Park).
Here you will find The Shops at Columbus Circle.
With over 50 retail shops and boutiques, there is something for everyone.
Just to name a few, there’s Coach, Eileen Fisher, H&M, Hugo Boss, Lululemon and more.
M.A.C. Cosmetics is also here. The kids will love the PAW Patrol Experience.
Drop in to get a cool view of Central Park’s southwest corner and the monument at Columbus Circle.
Grab some food at Whole Foods on the 1st floor for a picnic in the park. Bonus: there’s a bathroom on the 2nd floor!
Also in Columbus Circle is a unique shopping experience at the Turnstyle Underground Market located beneath 8th Avenue between W. 57th and W. 58th Street.
There are shops and kiosks with niche items as well as food vendors with really interesting international foods.
Access the market by the 59th Street-Columbus Avenue subway station - you don't have to enter the subway so you can stop by the market for free.
At Christmas, there’s the Columbus Circle holiday market which is great for gift shopping.
Though Times Square isn't the best destination for shopping, chances are you may be in the area during your trip.
There are a few chain stores there to pop into.
If you are in the market for blue jeans, you've come to the right place. The largest Levi’s Store in the world is in Times Square.
If you are traveling with children, Times Square should be on your shopping list!
There’s M&M's World, the Disney Store, LINE Friends Store, and Hershey's Chocolate World.
Many stores in Times Square stay open late which is perfect for those going to a Broadway show but want to get in some NYC shopping time!
Find out more about the shopping and other activities in Times Square here.
This area we cover is quite large, so we will be listing neighborhoods from 18th Street downwards.
We include Union Square, Greenwich Village, East Village, SoHo, and Lower Manhattan.
This neighborhood is just north of Greenwich Village. It’s between 14th and 18th Sts between 5th Avenue and Irving Place.
For great people-watching, Union Square Park is an especially good spot to go. Grab food at Whole Foods.
If you are here on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday you can grab fresh produce and more at the Union Square Green Market.
It's open year-round. The market hours are 8 am to 6 pm.
When you are ready to shop, you have three discount stores on 14th Street: Burlington Coat Factory, Nordstrom’s Rack, and DSW Shoe Warehouse.
On Broadway between 17th and 18th Street is a large sports store, Paragon, with a fantastic selection of sports clothing for workouts in the gym or climbing a mountain!
Across the street is a Dr. Martens store as well as Scotch and Soda.
Here’s a directory of stores.
TIP: For a cool picture of Union Square Park go to the top floor of Burlington Coat Factory overlooking the park!
Greenwich Village is one of the most eclectic, lively neighborhoods in NYC and the stores are mostly one-of-a-kind independent shops.
All of our guides have spent lots of time here over the years, including leading two of our most popular pay-what-you-like guided tours.
We can say that if you are in the neighborhood (we highly recommend it!) wander the streets casually and if you see a shop that interests you, take a look.
MacDougal Street, Bleecker Street, and Hudson Street are good shopping streets-- something unique is peeking around every corner!
Find out more about the cool shops from our post A Local's Guide to the Best Things to Do in Greenwich Village.
One of the coolest neighborhoods in Downtown! A few of our guides love to shop for vintage clothing here.
We recommend Cloak & Dagger, Cobblestones, and L Train Vintage. For gently used current brands, stop by Buffalo Exchange.
There are also some lovely independent designer boutiques.
A must-see is Trash & Vaudeville, the iconic clothing store that was a favorite of punk rock and new wave bands like Blondie, The Ramones, and so many more.
St. Marks Place is fun to stroll along with storefronts flowing over with rock band t-shirts, bohemian jewelry, and stands selling everything from socks to hot pink wigs!
Find out about other stores in the neighborhood from our post, Things to Do in the East Village.
TIP: Another great part of town for vintage shopping is Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
SoHo is the place to go for slightly hipper boutique designer shops that aren’t on 5th Avenue like Celine, Chloé, Miu Miu, Rag and Bone, A.P.C., and John Fluevog.
Stop at the MoMA Design Store for unique creations that could only be thought up by The Museum of Modern Art.
For more affordable stores, Broadway between Houston Street and Canal Street has plenty of familiar chain shops.
You wouldn't expect this in NYC, but there are three major ‘outdoors’ shops: REI, The North Face and Timberland.
While the posh stores aren't quite our style, the number of sneaker shops is a big draw.
Call it sneaker heaven with Adidas Originals, the Converse flagship store, and a five-story, 55,000-square-foot Nike store all in the area.
Plus, there are lots of shoe stores along Broadway that sell many different brands at great prices.
To see a list of shops, check out our post, Things to Do in SoHo.
Like some other neighborhoods, this isn't an area we would go to just shop but when near the World Trade Center, there are a few places to stop by.
Whether the area already or not, Century 21 Department Store is one heck of a destination for amazing shopping!
Located across from the World Trade Center, Century has been THE place to go for bargain-basement prices on designer clothing for decades.
Then, on 9/11, the store was heavily damaged and closed for repairs for one year.
Then during the pandemic Century 21 shuttered its doors. Many of us were afraid it would never return!
But it did - phew! It is open again as of May 2023 and we locals are rejoicing.
The store sells men's, women's, and children's apparel and shoes, plus handbags, accessories, fragrances, and luggage.
Century 21 is well-known by international tourists due to its serious discounts on designer labels like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior.
Don’t worry - there are plenty of affordable labels as well. If you love deals, Century 21 cannot be beaten!
A few blocks north of Century, is the Westfield World Trade Center, Manhattan’s largest shopping center, with 60+ retailers.
Many of the stores are located in The Oculus, a huge transportation hub.
While we don't go here for shopping only, we will pop in when in the area.
You should go see The Oculus. It’s a stunning futuristic structure that’s highly Instagrammable!
Familiar names at Westfield are the Apple Store, UGG, Sephora, Aldo, Banana Republic, Kate Spade, John Varvatos, BOSS, Victoria's Secret, H&M, and many more.
Right next to this shopping mall are the 9/11 Memorial & Museum as well as One World Trade Center with the One World Observatory at the top.
Brookfield Place, a business complex with luxury shops sprinkled throughout is across the street from World Trade Center.
Among the 20 or so shops are names like Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Tory Burch, Gucci, and Ferragamo.
The complex has a beautiful Winter Garden -- a giant atrium with palm trees and a view of the Hudson River. There are also lots of places to get yummy food.
In the summer, we stop by to get some food and sit by the water’s edge next to a small marina.
In the winter, there’s an ice skating rink!
TIP: There are public bathrooms! Yay!
OUTLET MALLS IN NY
The most famous outlet mall in NY is Woodbury Commons which can be easily reached by special direct buses that run every day.
Other outlet malls include the Mills at Jersey Gardens, Tanger Outlets in Deer Park, Long Island, and The Outlets at Bergen Town Center.
Currently, Empire Outlets on Staten Island is the only outlet mall in New York City itself, whereas the other well-known outlets are beyond NYC (though still close).
Empire Outlets is just 20 minutes from Lower Manhattan via the free ride on the Staten Island Ferry.
It's decent, but we'd rather spend our time getting deep discounts at other NYC Outlet Malls.
TIP: For discount hunters, see our post on Discount Shopping in New York City.
We all know how to shop. Some of us know how to shop without dropping!
But those who are new to the Big Apple may not know the ins and outs of shopping in NYC.
Here are some things to know before you head out for your shopping adventure.
1. Sales tax
Tax on any retail purchase in New York City is, as of June 2023, 8.875%. That’s high, right? Here’s why.
Purchases in NYC are taxed three times: 4.5% sales tax for New York City 4% sales tax for NY State AND 0.375% NYC Commuter sales tax.
That’s a total of nearly 8.875% tax on all the nice things you buy when you go shopping in New York City!
But there is some good news. Clothing and footwear that cost under $110 are exempt from being taxed.
For, example, if you buy a shirt for $110 it will not be taxed. If it’s $110.01, add nearly 9% tax onto the price.
Note that this applies only to clothing and footwear $110 and less. All other items like handbags, luggage, jewelry, perfumes, bedding home decor, etc. are taxed.
See this official New York State detailed list of what is exempt from the tax and what it isn't.
2. You’ll pay for that shopping bag
NYC has a paper and plastic reduction law. A paper bag for your purchases will cost $0.05. A reusable cloth bag is between $0.10 to $0.25.
Many department stores in New York City sell reusable shopping bags for $.99 near the registers. Many are cute and make great souvenirs from your trip!
3. Forms of payment accepted at most stores
Credit cards are accepted at almost all shops. Cash as well. A lot of stores have the option of tap-to-pay or using your iPhone wallet.