Why do the majority of visitors to New York descend on the city in fall and early winter? They come here to shop. In the run-up to Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and other big-spender holidays, avid shoppers storm the city because they know that if you can’t find it in the Big Apple . . . well, it simply doesn’t exist. On this website, I attempt to bring some order to the massive number of shopping options in the Big Apple, concentrating on the locally owned shops and shopping experiences that can only be had in NYC. If you want one of the chain stores—and lord knows we have a lot of those in NYC!—look at the section of this site called "Shopping by Area". I'll tell you where the clusters of chains are there.

Sales Tax -- At the time of this writing, the combined New York State and City sales tax totals 8.875%. But the city has made clothing and footwear under $110 exempt from sales tax, leaving only the state to charge 4.5% on those items.

When Is It Open?

Open hours can vary significantly from store to store—even different branches of Gap can keep different schedules depending on location and management. Generally, stores open at 10 or 11am Monday through Saturday, and 7pm is the most common closing hour—with exceptions, of course. Both opening and closing hours tend to get later as you move downtown; stores in the East Village often don’t open until 1 or 2pm, and they stay open until 8pm or later. All of the big department stores are open 7 days a week. However, unlike department stores in suburban malls, most of these stores don’t keep a regular 10am-to-9pm schedule. The department stores and shops along major strips, such as Fifth Avenue, usually stay open later 1 night a week (often Thurs), while smaller boutiques may close 1 day a week. Sunday hours are usually 11am to 5 or 6pm. But at holiday time, anything goes: Macy’s often stays open until midnight for the last few weeks before Christmas. Your best bet is to call ahead or check a particular store website if your heart’s set on visiting it.

Sale Seasons

These may be obvious to the serious shopper, but for those on the learning curve, here are New York’s prime sale seasons:

Thanksgiving: “Black Friday,” or the day after Thanksgiving, is the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Many stores inaugurate this high time with major sales. Stores are open wildly early and late, and entice shoppers with some amazing deals, usually involving buying multiple items.

Pre-Christmas: Retailers bent on making their sales quotas go to great lengths to draw in eager shoppers. Bargains abound, though they may not dazzle as much as prices on December 26. Which leads me to . . .

Post-Christmas: With the Christmas returns and overstocked storerooms come the markdowns.

Whites: Usually in January, this is a sale of linens . . . and these days, rarely white.

January Clearance: You’ll find the European boutiques advertising clearance around the third week of January.

Valentine’s Day: Anything red, chocolaty, or with a heart shape will be advertised “on sale.”

Presidents' Day: This February long weekend brings great deals on winter inventory.

Memorial Day: Promotional sales sail in the last weekend in May.

Fourth of July: Blowouts on bathing suits and summer attire are summoned by the long weekend.

Midsummer Clearance: If there is anything summer related left on the racks after the Fourth of July, you’ll find it through about mid-August.

Back-to-School: A dreaded term as a child now means terrific deals on shoes, sweaters, bags, and outerwear.

Columbus Day: Coats and winter gear go on sale on this long weekend, usually the second one in October.

Election Day: Columbus Day sale leftovers are usually on the supersale racks by this early November government holiday.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.