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While New York City has amazing museums, sites and architecture to enjoy, many visitors come for the shopping too. Are you wondering about the best places to shop in NYC on a budget? NYC is a dream for those looking for great shopping deals and finds, not to mention it’s a fashion mecca for designers and department stores alike. As a New Yorker, and especially someone who started in the fashion industry and transitioned into travel, I often surprise myself at the bargains that can be found even though NYC is considered a more expensive city to visit.
“Travel in style” is actually one of my mantras and you can probably observe this via all of my photos on Instagram; fashion is important to me. But the secret to having such an amazing wardrobe, shoes and accessories is discount shopping in NYC. I am that girl who is like Imelda Marco owning a ton of shoes, currently over 450 pair, but who’s always bargain hunting. I even make special New York shopping trips, now that I am based between NYC and Europe. There are plenty of places where you can get incredible deals in NYC, especially designer clothes for lower prices.
As a Travel style expert, just for you, I put together this list of the best places to shop in NYC on a budget. Get ready for some Cheap shopping in New York City!
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Smarter Shopping in NYC – NYC Budget Shopping Spree Tour
- 1.1 1. Century 21
- 1.2 2. Lot Less
- 1.3 3. DSW
- 1.4 4. TJ Maxx
- 1.5 5. Marshalls
- 1.6 6. Nordstrom Rack
- 1.7 7. Sample sales and Pop-up shops from fashion designers
- 1.8 8. Macys
- 1.9 9. Bloomingdale’s
- 1.10 10. Barney’s Warehouse
- 1.11 11. Primark
- 1.12 12. Buffalo Exchange
- 1.13 13. Beacon’s Closet
- 1.14 14. City Opera thrift shop
- 1.15 15. Vintage Thrift shop
- 1.16 16. Housing Works Thrift Shops
- 1.17 17. Goldwater Thriftique (AuH2O)
- 1.18 18. L Train vintage and Tokyo 7
- 1.19 19. Salvation Army
- 1.20 20. Goodwill Thrifting Stores
- 1.21 21. Empire Outlets New York City (Harbor Commons)
- 1.22 22. Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
- 1.23 23. Soho Shopping
- 1.24 24. Canal Street shopping in NYC’s Chinatown
- 1.25 25. Universal Standard
- 1.26 26. Eloquii
- 2 Other Things to know before you go shopping in NYC – New York shopping tips
Smarter Shopping in NYC – NYC Budget Shopping Spree Tour
Who is ready for some retail therapy? Let’s go on a NYC Budget Shopping Spree Tour.
1. Century 21
One of my ultimate favorite stores ever, every time I am in NYC, is Century 21. It is a NYC iconic store, where you can get designers clothes for up to 80% off. There’s a little bit of everything, from the best jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, amazing designer clothes and shoes (!)… it’s all there. You know that I am all about heels! And, even if it’s raining, you can get your totes umbrellas for a bargain.
Many years ago, I used to attend college in downtown Manhattan and, after class, when I wasn’t rushing off to work, Century 21 was my first stop for budget shopping. There are definitely some fabulous pieces to be found at a fraction of the retail price. I always take all of the people who visited me in NYC there too. This location is the largest store, the flagship, so you’ll find plenty of options. One of the best budget spots in the City!
2. Lot Less
Last time, I was in NYC late last year, before I left to spend over 6 months in Southeast Asia, I went shopping in Lot Less, which is in downtown Manhattan, not far from Century 21. You can find tons of things there if you look. They have lots of designer brands at very low discounted prices. I got myself a very cute Betsey Johnson Swim suit for like $10 and an awesome designer dress. I even made a new shopping friend. We were giving each other opinions and we still keep in touch via social media. You see, shopping is good for you (in moderation, of course), therapeutic even and you can make new friends. If you are in Downtown Manhattan, check it out; you never know what you will find at an affordable price.
Speaking of Union Square, while there you must go to DSW, the best location for shoe shopping in NYC! I totally love going there for some of the best designer shoes for less. I always buy my long winter boots, at a fraction of the price, off season. My friends know that I love this store so much that I always receive gift cards from there as a gift. In the end, I am a true shoe lover, or should I better describe myself as a shoe addict or shoe-aholic! Don’t judge! LOL
Btw, I also love going to their Herald Square location, not far from Macys, Forever 21 and Victoria Secret. A wonderful trifecta…you’re welcome!
Shop my favorite Travel Beauty Essentials
4. TJ Maxx
It is one of the best affordable shopping options in NYC! I truly enjoy going to the one near Columbus Circle, or in midtown near 1stavenue, to check out what they have. You can find anything from designer clothing, to shoes, accessories, cosmetics and beauty products, home decor stuff, blankets, lingerie and much more (depending on the location). It is a super good choice to buy items at a great price.
Honestly, TJ Maxx, is sort of like my current replacement for Loehmann’s. When I used to live in the Chelsea neighborhood, while going to college, I remember always being in Loehmann’s; you would find always the best deals. Unfortunately, they went bankrupt in late 2013 and they closed all of their physical stores in 2014. Well, if you enjoy online shopping, you can still shop on their website since they are now exclusively an online retailer.
Marshalls is always my go to spot when I am around the neighborhood of Harlem. It is on west 125th street and the store is huge (several floors). There are tons of options for bargain designer’s outfits. I remember going shopping there for my entire spring/summer travel wardrobe before leaving on a trip to Ukraine. Everyone loved my outfits, if they knew how much I’d paid, ha! they would have been shocked! One trick is always knowing how to properly accessorize your outfit to make it look more expensive than what it was. I totally recommend for you to visit this Marshalls location. I even purchased luggage there once and filled it up with all of my purchases. It is super close to the 2/3 subway, and you can easily walk over to the famous Apollo Theater when you’re done.
6. Nordstrom Rack
Nordstrom Rack is an extension of Nordstrom’s, but discounted. It is a NYC department store that is similar to Century 21. My favorite is their very cool beauty department, one of my ‘go to’ ones, other than shopping at Sephora. Nordstrom Rack is a great budget spot to shop in Union Square.
7. Sample sales and Pop-up shops from fashion designers
There are great shopping events in NYC. Some are by invitation only, which I attended since I used to be Fashion Editor of a few publications in NYC, so this granted me the special access. It was the perfect time for me to get the best outfits for New York Fashion Week at a good price. But there are some that are open to the public as well.
TIP: If you would like to keep yourself informed about shopping NYC sample sales, you can sign up on the website Chicmi.com. Chicmi let’s you explore your city’s fashion. You can even download their app, if you live in NYC, so that you can be informed about fashion events and sample sales. NOTE: Sample sizes tend to run smaller than average, so keep that in mind.
Throwback Memory: I still remember how the online website Gilt City, which sells designer brands for less online, used to do yearly sample sales in NYC for the public. I have not seen a recent one advertised, but there are many stores and designers that do this. If not, you can always visit them online and shop.
Macys is the largest department store in the world. It’s actually two buildings connected into one. One of the reasons, I do not like to go in there is because I prefer smaller stores and boutiques, but let me tell you, when they have their Wednesday’s sales or sample sales, or when you have the time to really look around, you can find awesome deals. I have bought tons of things, even very inexpensive suits when I used to work in an office setting. It is definitely a place to consider shopping in NYC, since it has a little bit of everything for everyone, for all budgets. My best friend especially loves searching through their clearance racks (most floors have them). As a larger sized girl, she cannot walk past Macy’s without visiting the 7th floor (directly above the 7th Avenue entrance) to search for deals.
BTW, if the deals are better online, you could always ship it to the store for pick up.
TIP: Although many discounts are offered for Macy’s card holders, but Domestic & International Tourists can also pick up a “visitor savings pass” that’s good for days. Go to https://www.visitmacysusa.com/visitor-savings for more information.
Although there are several locations in Manhattan, the original is between 59th & 60th Streets with entrances on Lexington and Third Avenues. Bloomingdale’s is another large department store that frequently offers savings with plenty of discounted clothing and other items. You can even pre-schedule one free appointment for consultation with one of their stylists or personal shoppers. They provide great feedback regarding your coloring, body type, or can even assist you with shopping for yourself or someone else.
Go to their website to learn more about their services. Similar to Macy’s, you can order discounted items online and ship it to the store for pick up. They also have a visitor’s services for international shoppers including translators and delivery of your packages to your hotel (when you spend $250 or more). Find more information here:
NOTE: The 59th Street location also has a Magnolias Bakery site right inside the store, by their Third Avenue entrance/exit. Why not treat yourself with something sweet? While they are known for their cupcakes, I recommend the banana pudding.
10. Barney’s Warehouse
Barneys warehouse is an amazing place to find great deals on past collections. They offer tons of iconic and special sales during different times of the year. You can shop for anything from designer handbags, to womenswear, menswear and more. They also have a great clearance area and lots of different locations. I usually go to the one in Chelsea, but I’ve also been to their Brooklyn and Woodbury Common outlets locations. Great deals all around!
Primark is not only one of my go to places for cheap shopping in NYC, but also I love going to their huge store in Madrid. I also always went to the Alexander Platz one in Berlin while living there, and now I go to some of their locations in Linz, Austria and in Lisbon, Portugal where I am mostly based now. It is a great place for basic essentials, accessories, home goods and more. I usually get everyday items, or things I can mix and match such as tops, pants, etc. But when I want something more trendy and “out there,” then I go to smaller boutiques or other kind of stores. Regardless, Primark is great, with lots of good selections.
Second hand stores – Thrift and Vintage shopping in NYC:
You might be thinking, second hand stores? Actually, the thrifting culture is a popular practice when it comes to fashionistas shopping on a budget. You will meet many people in NYC, and around the world, who love thrift shopping. I even have a friend who does one of the top airbnb experiences in NYC, which is a thrift shopping tour. I am writing a full review of the experience I had going with her vintage and thrifting shopping in NYC.
You can really find awesome, unique options if you look, and most things are lightly worn, since many people, I can count myself amongst this group, may wear certain outfits once or twice, and then never again.
If you love deals, and prefer unique items, this is the best way to bargain shop in New York City. I love thrifting so much because it is like hunting for a hidden gem amongst all of the items. You must have patience and know that you may not always find something, but when you do, it’ll feel as if you’ve struck gold!
TIP: It’s important that you understand that conditions of the items vary. Beyond having to possibly have something dry cleaned, you may need to replace a zipper, or have a small stain removed. Factor this on top of the price of the item, and consider whether or not the purchase is worth it.
12. Buffalo Exchange
In Buffalo Exchange, you can find a mix of items, from shopping new, used and vintage fashions. There are several locations and it is another one of my ‘go to’ for shopping. I found some cute dresses and some vintage shoes last time I shopped there. As mentioned previously, you have to have the patience to look, but it is quite organized which makes it easier.
13. Beacon’s Closet
This store is resale heaven! You can get some of the best vintage finds in a very laid back environment. I love how they’re items are organized by era, size, color, styles, so it is easier to find selections I’m interested in. I found some cute and stylish clothing in there that was both quality and cost friendly.
14. City Opera thrift shop
This is shopping while giving back to the arts project. I love this place because you can find really nice things for you, your home and more. The best part is that they donate a percentage of their monies to the arts. All sales go to the creation of costumes for the NYC opera. What a great initiative that benefits all Opera lovers, locals and tourists alike!
15. Vintage Thrift shop
I love this store, for those that are serious about vintage shopping in NYC. I mean that they are quite particular about the items they sell and call vintage. You can tell by their name! They have such a variety, from furniture to kitchen wear to incredible designers brands for bargain prices. The only downside is that they are closed on Saturdays, so keep that in mind when arranging your shopping trip to NYC. Saturdays are usually crazy in most stores, so I prefer to shop during the week anyway. NOTE: They also have an east side location too.
16. Housing Works Thrift Shops
Housing Works is a NYC based, non-profit organization that helps to combat AIDS and homelessness. They have 13 locations in NYC and you can find anything from high-end vintage, to modern/contemporary finds, to furniture and other bargain hunter treasures. It is an amazing affordable place to shop in NYC and they are famous for their initiatives, so your purchases are definitely making a difference.
17. Goldwater Thriftique (AuH2O)
This great shopping store has hot spots in the East Village, Manhattan and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Honestly, it’s one of my favorites because it is super shopper friendly. It’s smaller but with a great selection of clothes, and the staff is super helpful. I barely have found anything over 25 dollars, so you can really find great bargains. I also found the clothes carefully selected since they are lightly used, at least in my experience. NOTE: It is all women’s wear.
18. L Train vintage and Tokyo 7
In this store, you can find really good staple and basic outfits to mix and match into your existing wardrobe. They have some really cool vintage pieces for very inexpensive prices. They have a great selection, the space is huge and you can find lots of used but quality clothes.
19. Salvation Army
Salvation Army? Yes, you’ve read it correctly. In the Salvation army stores, you’d be surprised what you can find. If you truly have the time to look, you can find tons of treasures between the racks. I’ve found some cool pieces and I’ve also donated a lot of my used clothes there or to Goodwill Industries.
While there are many locations in the 5 boroughs, I usually go to a Salvation Army in Astoria, but my friend, the ‘thrift shopping expert,’ showed me one in the City that she prefers and that one was great. We found tons of cool things. Sometimes, location matters.
20. Goodwill Thrifting Stores
I have my mixed feelings about Goodwill but I need to mention them since they have tons of different locations. It is truly a hit or miss. I’ve had better experiences in their stores on East 23rd Street, West 8th Street and also the one on the Upper East Side, but in others I didn’t find anything. I guess you need patience to look around, but expect little to no help.
I personally did not love the experience going to their huge Long Island City location. First, there’s usually a long wait on line to get in. Second, at different times of the day, with all of the shopping cart/bags, shoppers run in and strewn items around trying to view them before throwing them into bags or their carts. Then, the clothes are weighed and you pay by the pound. People are crazed, but considering the bargains to be had, there’s a little bit of understanding. Just come prepared and try not to lose your temper.
Be mindful that you have to go through bins and bins to find anything. So, it is a totally different experience than shopping elsewhere. I’d even recommend that you wear gloves, so as not to get your hands dirty. I found out that other people go there to find items for resale rather than for personal use which makes them the worst shoppers. I found it to be a unique experience but, for me, it’s really more of a once in a lifetime experience. I definitely do not have the patience for this.
Outlet shopping in New York City and surrounding areas
21. Empire Outlets New York City (Harbor Commons)
The new kid on the block is the Empire Outlets New York City, also known as Harbor Commons, in the St. George Neighborhood of Staten Island. It’s a 350,000 square foot retail shopping area that was recently opened in May 2019. I think it is definitely a place worth visiting, even if only for the view.
You definitely can’t go wrong. But since we are here for the budget shopping, it is convenient for people who want to enjoy walking along, while also seeing the views of the Statue of Liberty and of the NYC skyline for free! And then going shopping on a budget while on the other side.
Keep in mind that, so far, only certain stores are open but not all as of yet (it will have around 100 designer outlets once fully subscribed) but it’s still awesome to find outlet prices, especially for the same items that you would normally have paid a 20% markup in Manhattan.
One of the stores included above on this list is there, Nordstrom Rack, and you can also find other stores such as Guess Factory Store, Gap Factory Store, Nike Factory Store, Old Navy Outlet, and much more, including dining coming soon. Only time will eventually show us all of the other amazing shops and eateries who will join the Empire.
22. Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
Although located about an hour outside of NYC, you can easily grab a comfortable bus that will shuttle you to the Commons directly from Port Authority (42nd Street and 8th Ave.). The Woodbury Common Premium Outlets are actually a group of many outlets for all different brands, from Burberry to Zimmerman, and everything in between. You can book the shuttle and tour here.
You’ll be surprised about the number of deals you can find here, so shop smartly if you are on a budget. Prioritize the stores you want to visit, and you can even create a list of your shopping priorities (clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry, etc). Save a little $ by bringing your own snacks/beverages (although there are eateries like McDonald’s, Shake Shack and Chipotle there).
Here are my best 6 SHOPPING TIPS for Woodbury Common:
(1) You can usually obtain discounted bus tickets online from Get Your Guide, Groupon or Living Social
(2) Plan ahead by reviewing their map so that you can select your stores and map out a route for your visit
(3) Make sure to grab a locker or two so that you can have a place to leave your purchases as you shop
(4) At the information center, you can pick up a discount booklet, along with online coupons available on their site
(5) Bring a few larger shopping bags so that you can merge smaller packages into one bag or a few bags
(6) Lastly, if you decide not to drive and take the bus, arrive to the pick up line at least 30-40 min before your bus is scheduled to leave. Sometimes there are more people ready to leave than seats available on the bus, so you might need to wait for the next one.
23. Soho Shopping
Soho offers one of the best shopping areas in New York City. Broadway and Prince Street – a little more expensive but you cannot miss it and, of course, you can always find smaller boutiques in the area or popular cheap shopping stores, such as H&M or Bershka, (which is the European version of H&M). They also have top shop which is a little pricier, but it works as well, depending on the sales they have and on your budget + style.
24. Canal Street shopping in NYC’s Chinatown
Canal Street in NYC’s Chinatown is infamous for discount shopping. However, I caution you that it’s not without it’s own challenges due to the illegality and stealth of this type of shopping. First, it’s primarily knock offs (some better than others, so make sure to inspect the items) and lots of aggressive sellers who expect you to bargain. Second, these types of items are not visible in the stalls. They are in hidden back rooms or basements so, for your safety, make sure to shop with a friend. You will be approached with someone “whispering” all different types of brand names (Fendi? Prada? Louis Vuitton?). If you seem interested, they will ask you to follow them. Use your own judgement and instincts. Thirdly, cash is king (no credit cards here). I usually make sure to carry small bills and large bills, separated amongst my different pockets (and a special wallet I wear under my clothes). You don’t want to haggle someone down to $12 and then try paying with a $50 bill…be very mindful of your cash and don’t flash it about attracting lots of attention.
It helps you to look tough and be ready to walk away at any time. Fourth, while you may find great deals on knock off scarves, purses and perfumes, I don’t recommend purchasing DVDs.
Love all things Asian? Pearl River Mart is an Asian market and one of my favorite places to shop since they have a little bit of everything. You’ll never know what you will find, so take your time and browse leisurely.
Plus size shopping in NYC
Based on my best friend’s stories, I know how challenging it can be for plus sized women to find fashionable items at a discount. While many of the places listed previously carry varying sizes, there can sometimes be less of a selection in larger-sized clothing. So, I’ve asked her to share a couple of her faves here.
While you can definitely find discounted clothing at Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart, I’d like to mention two of my favorite clothing stores for larger sized women that are unique. BTW, both of the stores listed below offer personalized styling via appointment, so plan ahead to take advantage of this amazing service!
25. Universal Standard
This newer brand is fabulous, not just because of the clothes but the messaging too. The co-founders ideal is creating clothing that any woman can wear, whether she be a size 6 or 32 (and everything in between). But they take it a step further by recognizing that to do so involves adjusting the design process depending on the size, versus what other brands do (which is fitting a piece to one size and then just increasing or decreasing the SAME design “proportionately”). That doesn’t work. Universal Standard makes unique adjustments, to any item they produce, depending on the size. Their clothing may not be “inexpensive” but they are quality pieces that you can have for years to come. AND, if your size changes from a year of purchase, for many of their items, you can return them for a different size. Now, that can be a savings right there!
In Eloquii, you will find lots of fabulous styles and lots of deals (especially online). What first caught my attention was a friend’s dress. The pattern was so modern and fresh, not your typical “grandma” patterns that I sometimes see available for plus-sized clothing. Their clothing is sexy and feminine, and celebrates your curves (rather than trying to hide/cover them) and everything is really reasonably priced. While this NYC location hasn’t been open for long (went from a pop-up shop for the holidays, to now becoming a “permanent” shop location) but I’m hoping that they’ll be here for years to come!
Other Things to know before you go shopping in NYC – New York shopping tips
Sales Taxes in NYC
The sales tax on clothing should only apply when the items are over $110 dollars, so anything under this does not have any taxes. You can save a lot of money. Keep in mind the sales tax is not on the tags when you are shopping in a store. It is applied at the register (usually a little shy of 10%).
Bring your recyclable bags or purchase one from any of the stores
As a socially conscious fashion lover, I usually prefer to have my own recyclable totes. Places such as TJ Maxx, Marshall, etc. sell them very cheap (usually $0.99). I believe that it’s for your convenience…makes it easier to carry everything. Also, you can take pride in the fact that you are lowering your carbon footprint, or lessening the further damage to the environment due to all of the plastic bags. Tip: If I go thrift shopping, then I get a cheaper big bag or tote to place all of my purchases in one place. Help save the planet!
Overall, NYC has some amazing deals and budget shopping opportunities. I hope that this extensive list of the best places to shop in NYC on a budget has helped you to find the best discounts, sales and, of course, to find the fashion picks for your style and needs.
Do you have a favorite budget shopping store in NYC? Tell us all about it in the comments below.
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