Shop New York: How to win at Black Friday in the Big Apple
Outlet shopping tips
Black Friday in the Big Apple? Yes, shopping dreams do come true. Nicola Brady has your need-to-know.
Set the mood
There's an air of giddiness in the changing rooms of Diane von Furstenberg.
I'm trying on a classic black wrap dress, and wondering if I've gotten the wrong end of the stick, price-wise. I ask the assistant if the 50pc discount really is taken off the lowest price, making my $400 dress just $50, when a half-naked woman pops her head out from behind a curtain.
"Honey, this sale is insane," she quips. "Just buy it all!"
Black Friday is notorious. The day after Thanksgiving, shops slash their prices (and shoppers trample each other). But combine a city break with some top-notch outlets and you can score serious bargains, without the stampede.
Simon Shopping Destinations has two outlet malls within a short hop of Manhattan: The Mills at Jersey Gardens and Woodbury Common Premium Outlets.
I took my credit card to both for a workout.
The most important thing to know about Black Friday is that most sales start a few days early. I went to The Mills the day before Thanksgiving, and the sales were already in full swing, with stores offering additional discounts - often 50pc.
Neiman Marcus is a good option for multiple labels in one store - I saw an Alexander McQueen dress for $698/€625, down from $1,995/€1,787, an Oscar de la Renta gown down from $2,290/€2,051 to $400/€358, and some Jimmy Choos for just $146/€131.
Thanksgiving day itself is the best day to shop, however. I went upstate to Woodbury Common and blitzed the Levi's, Converse and Banana Republic stores, while most locals were still eating turkey. It stays open all Thanksgiving night, too.
Start by sitting down with a coffee and a map, highlighting the shops you want to hit and planning your route. With over 200 stores apiece, you need to approach with military precision... this is something you can do before you travel, pinning your targets on Google Maps.
With all the excitement of Black Friday, don't forget to enjoy the American Thanksgiving experience itself. After my shopping spree in Woodbury Common, I stayed at The Thayer Hotel (thethayerhotel.com; packages from $109/€98), a country spot that serves up an incredible Thanksgiving feast. I gorged on turkey (and beef and ham) as well as mashed potatoes, candied yams, gravy and all the trimmings. It's got Black Friday deals, too.
If you're in Manhattan on Thanksgiving morning (Saturday, November 24), the Macy's Day Parade is the hottest ticket in town. People queue all night for a top viewing spot, but if you meander up to Central Park as the parade begins, you can clamber up a rock and watch the top of the balloons float by. This year's parade is the 90th anniversary edition. See social.macys.com for more.
Understandably, things can get busy on Black Friday, and after about 11am the crowds are often overwhelming. While clothing and shoes are tax-free in New Jersey, that pesky 8pc will always be added to your bill in New York.
Get me there
Nicola flew with Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com), which flies from Dublin and Shannon to New York JFK and Newark airports from €209 each-way.
The Mills at Jersey Gardens (simon.com; 651 Kapkowski Rd, Elizabeth, NJ) are 30 minutes from Manhattan (or a five-minute shuttle from Newark Airport).
Woodbury Common (premiumoutlets.com; Central Valley, New York) is an hour away, with buses for both running from Port Authority (42nd & Eighth Ave; from $42/€37).
See nycgo.com for more tips on travel in New York.
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