Shopping In New York City 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Shopping in NYC: Where & What to Buy

It’s no secret that New York City is a global mecca for shopping— as the fashion capital of the United States, it offers such a wide variety of stores you can easily spend entire days swiping your credit card. But what if you are looking for a specific kind of store?

And what if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars at one of the top retail stores in the city? Or what if you do? We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to shopping in NYC, so whether you’re after touristy kitsch, the best bargains, your next pair of Louboutins, or all of these things, you’ll know where to go and what you can buy there.

People walking in the streets of New York City
So little time, so much shopping in NYC. Photo credit: Fabien Bazanegue

The best neighborhoods for shopping in NYC

Shopping in New York can feel like exploring Oz: you’ll have a lot of reminders that you’re not in Kansas anymore. Tucked inside, around, in front of, above, and below the city’s greatest landmarks are stores of all varieties.

In fact, stores like Macy’sBergdorf Goodman, and Tiffany and Coare some of the city’s greatest landmarks. As you explore NYC, you will most likely hear locals refer to different neighborhoods for shopping, so it’s best to know what you are looking for before heading out in search of them.

woman holding shopping bags
New York is one of the best places to go shopping in the world. Photo credit: Jacek Dylag

SoHo

SoHo is one of New York City’s directionally named neighborhoods. (It’s an acronym for  “South of Houston” Street, and roughly occupies the southwest area of Manhattan, stretching along Broadway, Prince Street, Spring Street, and all the way down to Canal Street.).

For walkers like us, SoHo is the perfect NYC shopping neighborhood—it has a unique mix of high-end designer stores and mid-to low-end shops that appeal to every type of shopper. The neighborhood’s buildings are famous for their iron facades, which add an atmospheric appeal to the area. Here, you can find PradaChanelCoachH&MAlex & AniVictoria’s Secret, and more.

Insider’s Tip: If you get hungry, check out these nine great SoHo spots for a bite to eat.

People walking down the street shopping in SoHo
SoHo is the place to be if you’re a shopper with a big or small budget. Photo credit: Yoav Aziz

Fifth Avenue

New York’s Fifth Avenue is the city’s most famous shopping street, and probably the most famous shopping street in the world. Here, you can find flagship stores for nearly every high-end designer—Louis VuittonTiffany & Co.Gucci, Prada, ValentinoArmaniFendi, and more. The most iconic section of Fifth Avenue starts at 42nd Street just above Bryant Park and extends to 59th Street at Central Park.

It’s a popular spot for celebrities and New York’s elite, but it’s also a great area to get that true New York window shopping experience (which, if you pay attention, is what many people on the street are doing as well). Fifth Avenue is where you’ll find the lavish window displays in front of places like  Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, which update their windows each season and attract thousands of visitors each year during the winter holidays.

Even if you don’t want to break the bank, Fifth Avenue is a great spot to visit for large stores like UniqloZara, and Ann Taylor.

Insider’s Tip: The farther uptown you go, the fancier (and more expensive) the stores become.

street signs in new york city
Some of the world’s most iconic department stores are located on Fifth Avenue, including Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. Photo credit: Jose Oh

The Flatiron District

Part restaurant row, part shopping center, part historic landmark, part park, the streets covering 23rd to 14th Streets, and Broadway west to 8th Avenue, offer some of the best shopping in the mid-to lower-end price range.

Here, you can find many of the retail chains from back home mixed with some unique specialty stores. If you’re looking for some quirky dishware or one-of-a-kind souvenirs, we recommend checking out Fishs Eddy.

This NYC institution sells NYC-themed gifts like bowls with the New York skyline painted on them or dishes that look like the city MetroCard. Anyone fresh from seeing Hamilton on Broadway can get ‘dueling’ shot glasses with Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr’s portraits.

An "I heart NY" key chain at a gift shop in New York City.
From quirky to typical, in the Flatiron district you can find the best NYC souvenirs. Photo credit: frankieleon

Madison Avenue, Upper East Side

For something a little quieter, exploring the boutiques on the Upper East Side is a great way to spend your afternoon. Most of these shops are small, but the items you’ll find in them are truly one of a kind. These boutiques are where the (usually well-to-do) locals go for unique evening wear, stylish jewelry, and glamorous daywear.

If you get hungry or thirsty while you’re on the Upper West Side you’ll find some of the best options here, ranging from a Viennese-style cafe to a Czech pub grub to a Japanese cocktail bar.

Insider’s Tips:

  • You can poke around these boutiques before or after spending a morning or afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or walking around Central Park.
  • If you’re planning to split your day between shopping and a museum, be sure to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes—you’ll definitely be doing a lot of walking.
woman in a boutique shop in New York
Spend the day on the Upper East Side shopping in NYC at local boutiques. Photo credit: Cam Morin

Canal Street

No shopping trip to NYC is complete without a stop at Canal Street. This is shopping in New York City at its most gritty and glorious, where you can find designer and knock-off designer bags, scarves, souvenirs of every description, and much, much more, all for always-affordable prices. This crowded neighborhood is a mecca for bargain hunters, especially those who like to haggle.

But beware – the shops are full of savvy businessmen/women so try to have a specific idea of what you’re looking for before you go–especially if you’re after name brands. If you want a specific designer, be sure to ask—most shop owners have the brand or knock-off version on sight, but they may be keeping it in a back room. Remember that you can often get deals if you buy more than one item—why pay more for one purse when you could get two for the same price?

Nearly everything is negotiable on Canal Street. If you’re on the east side of Canal Street, you’re essentially in Chinatown. So if you have a hankering for great soup dumplings or some noodles, you have to check out the restaurants in Chinatown.

Insider’s Tip: Some stores might be cash only, so take money out before you head down to Canal Street. This helps you barter with the store owners, too.

Shops selling clothes and luxury brands in Chinatown NYC
You can find anything and everything in these shops, ask away. Photo credit: Donny Jiang

Rockefeller Center

A major tourist hub, Rockefeller Center is also a popular destination for shoppers of all types. This is where you’ll find some of the best retail clothing stores in NYC, as well as specialty gift shops for NBC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more. Most stores are on the streets surrounding 30 Rockefeller Center and within the building itself, so you won’t have to go far to find what you’re looking for.

For the kids:

  • Rockefeller Center is the perfect destination for kids. With the LEGO Store and the newly-renovated Nintendo Store in the plaza, there are plenty of toys to distract the whole family.
  • Across Fifth  Avenue is the American Girl Store, where kids can bring their dolls for tea, makeovers, and to try out the newest doll fashions.

Where to eat nearby:

  • If you’re hungry while at Rockefeller Center, you’re not far from a fabulous place to eat. Some highlights include, Jupiter for excellent Italian, Le Rock for fine French fare, and Naro for elevated Korean.
Child leaning over a toy display at one of the London attractions for families.
Get in touch with your inner child at the LEGO store. Photo credit: Vika Glitter

Times Square

Times Square has everything—Broadway shows, comedy clubs, chain restaurants, and some of the best over-the-top theme stores in the city. It’s home to an enormous Disney store , plus Hershey’s chocolate gift shop, the global flagship M&M’s World, and enough I *Heart* NYC stores to find souvenirs for everyone on your list. It’s one of the best areas to shop in NYC for/with kids.

And if you’re hungry while in or near Times Square, you need not rely on a chain restaurant to fill your tummy. There are a handful of very reliable options near Times Square.

People walking around downtown in New York City
Times Square has everything you need at your fingertips. Photo credit: Luca Bravo

The best types of stores in NYC

Thrift shops

Looking for a designer wardrobe on a budget? We suggest checking out one of the many vintage or thrift shops in Manhattan and the city’s outer boroughs. Brooklyn is famous for its boutique thrift stores, so if you’re passing through Williamsburg, be sure to pop into one of the stores off the Bedford Ave stop of the L subway line.

There’s also a variety of thrift store chains across the city, including Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads, where you can find some of the latest fashions, pre-owned, for a lower price.

Shopping in NYC for a good cause:

  • One of the most popular thrift shop chains in the city is Housing Works. Its proceeds support the organization’s mission to end the dual crisis of homelessness and AIDS so just by shopping there, you’re helping two of NYC’s biggest scourges.
A woman thrifting and shopping in NYC
Half the fun of thrift shops is finding all the hidden treasures. Photo credit: Burst

Shop local

In the summer, New York City’s parks host dozens of open air markets where local artisans and farmers set up shop to sell their creations. The Brooklyn Flea Market is a popular weekend spot for both locals and tourists, so be sure to add it to your weekend list.

Insider’s Tip: After a few hours of shopping at the Brooklyn Flea Market, pop over to Smorgasburg. Here you can sample food from more than a hundred local food vendors. Rumor has it the Ramen Burger made its debut here.

Street food at a food stall at Smorgasburg
If you’re hungry from all that shopping, pop over to Smorgasburg for some great food. Photo credit: Mihir Sabnis

Big department stores

We’ve covered a lot of smaller shops throughout the city, but when you think of shopping in NYC, you can’t leave out the big department stores. Macy’s still reigns supreme at its location on 34th Street in Herald Square, and it holds daily events to make your shopping experience that much better. One of our favorite events there is the annual flower show, where each year the first two floors are transformed into an organic wonderland.

Bloomingdale’s is another must see. Located on the corner of 59th Street, Third Avenue, and Lexington Avenue, this store dominates the Midtown East neighborhood. It’s also one of the prettiest department stores in NYC during the Christmas season when they line the facade with lights.

Finally, when it comes to discount department stores none can top Century 21. Here you can find designer labels for an affordable price, but prepare yourself physically and mentally; it takes a little digging.

A bustling street with traffic in front of Macy's in New York City.
A trip to the Macy’s storefront window is worth the trip alone. Photo credit: Ash Cook

Grab a book

For the reader in your family, we recommend making a stop at some of the amazing book shops in NYC like the Strand Bookstore near Union Square. Boasting rare, used, and new books, this local shop is a great adventure for any book lover.

Besides books, the store also offers literature-related gifts, such as candles, bags, bookmarks, and more.

If you have the time, be sure to browse the discount books outside the store. It takes some digging, but they have great titles in there.

man shopping in NYC looking through a book
There’s an abundance of fantastic bookstores in NYC. Photo credit: PickPik

Other indie bookshops

If you’re looking for a smaller bookstore to get lost in, head to the West Village where Three Lives & Co. (West 10th St, 154) is one of the best independent book shops in the city. If you’re in Brooklyn, don’t miss Books Are Magic.

Person shopping in NYC at a used books shop
The joy of going to a second-hand bookshop is to get lost in the shelves and find something extraordinary. Photo credit: John Michael Thomson

Update Notice: This post was updated on April 13, 2024.

Want to discover the iconic midtown Manhattan? Why not join us on our Ultimate Manhattan Walking Tour? Our local guides will give you insider information about historical buildings in the area and we’ll finish by taking in the views from the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt.

About the author

Kelleigh is a writer and editor with a passion for the outdoors, travel, art, adventure, and storytelling.

More by Kelleigh Welch

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