Big savings in the Big Apple
WITH world-renowned megastores Macy’s and Bloomingales, and countless high-end brands along the iconic Fifth Avenue, New York is a shopper’s dream.
Add to that a pictureperfect location, great food, and holiday atmosphere, and it would be hard to beat the first class shopping experience that the Big Apple has to offer.
Sadly, as we know, it all comes at a price – so once you’ve forked out for your flight and hotel it may not leave much left over for the actually shopping.
And with the pound struggling against the dollar, your money may not go as far as you like.
But New York shopping doesn’t end in the city, and with outlet malls such as Woodbury Common Premium Outlets and Mills at Jersey Gardens, you can still enjoy a trip to the shopping mecca and grab yourself a bargain.
Both malls are run by Simon Shopping Destinations, and are not dissimilar to the likes of Cheshire Oaks near Ellesmere Port – providing miles and miles of outlet shops where you can pick up a bag or a pair of jeans at a quarter of the original price.
There are regular buses from New York City centre to both malls, with a return ticket costing around $30 - a small price to pay when you consider the savings to be made.
We sandwiched our city centre shopping with a visit to each of these malls, starting with a day at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets – just over an hour north of Manhattan – and a visit to Mills at Jersey Gardens before our flight back from Newark Airport.
With a carefullyplanned flight at 7pm, we managed almost a full day’s shopping at the mall before we headed to the airport, which was five minutes away.
With regular shuttles for travellers direct to the airport, it takes any hassle or pressure out of getting to the airport on time. And it’s in Jersey, which means there is no sales tax – a small saving, but a saving nonetheless. Again there are regular buses between New York City and the mall.
There are plenty of deals to be had when it comes to American staple brands such as Vans, Converse, Nike and Ralph Lauren.
I was shopping with four others who all managed to grab a bargain bag from Coach, DKNY or Kate Spade, as well as returning with armfuls of clothes, boots and trainers.
The real savings come from the coupon booklets – a savings passport, which offers you even more money off your shopping. Some stores give you discounts for spending over a certain amount, while others simply reduce the price if you pay by Mastercard. Just be prepared to wade your way through dozens of pages of offers.
And if, like me, you don’t have a mathematical mind, make sure you go armed with a calculator. The endless calculations and currency conversions can certainly send your head in a bit of a spin.
It’s also worth grabbing yourself a map, and if you’ve got limited time, work out a general route.
There’s nothing worse than arriving back at your hotel to realise you completely by-passed the American knick knacks at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
Of course, no trip to New York would be complete without a visit to Manhattan. As well as hitting Fifth Avenue and all the big department stores, we made the most of a City Pass, which gives you access to a number of attractions in the town, although some of the venues do require pre-booking.
We also managed to squeeze in a walk along the High Line – and old disused railway line which has been transformed into a garden oasis – and the Rockefeller Centre, which gives panoramic views of the city, arguably better than those afforded by the Empire State Building.
We spent our first night at the historical Thayer Hotel at West Point which shares the campus with an historic military academy.
About 20 minutes from the mall, it was located on the banks of Hudson River in the heart of a beautiful national park.
It was in stark contrast to our Manhattan hotel - The Intercontinental New York Barclay - which was just off Park Avenue. Five minutes from Central Park and a stone’s throw from the nearest subway station, it was perfect for us to nip back and dump our shopping before heading out for more.
Also worth a mention was our dinner at Patsy’s Italian, a traditional family owned Italian which was a favourite of Frank Sinatra and has since welcomed a plethora of high-profile celebrity diners.
With scallops the size of golf balls and its pumpkin ravioli, it’s definitely worth a visit.
The High Line