From world-famous department stores to vintage boutiques and outdoor flea markets, shopping in New York City is a cornerstone of the American experience.

If you can’t buy it in New York, it probably hasn’t been invented yet. From Fifth Avenue department stores where credit cards come to die to flea markets piled high with vintage clothes, this city spends with the best of them.

Department stores
, the classic NYC department store, has attracted the city’s serious fashion freaks since 1923 and has a reputation for being bang on the money with up-and-coming labels, such as Miu Miu and Derek Lam. There is also a huge collection of bags, cosmetics and homewares. For less expensive deals, try Barney’s Co-Op stores all around the city. (660 Madison Ave).

As well as providing NYC’s best Christmas window displays, Bergdorf Goodman is stuffed full of high-end fashion labels – John Varvatos, Marc Jacobs and Etro, to name three. There are bags, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics and homewares, plus a men’s store over the street. If the price tags bring on a cold sweat, the views looking north over Central Park should keep you calm (754 W 58th St).

Set up like a museum on six floors, ABC Carpet and Home is the place where designers and decorators come to seek inspiration. It’s filled with furnishings small and large, including handcrafted knickknacks, designer jewellery, lighting, antiques and carpets. Come Christmas, it’s a joy to behold: the decorators go all out. Also check out the new ABC Kitchen, serving organic dishes (888 Broadway).

Vintage and boutique
Strand Bookstore
is the city’s best-loved book store: it’s been open since 1927, selling new, used and rare titles. There are a staggering 18 miles’ worth of books here – more than 2.5 million of them, spread out across three labyrinthine floors. For real bargains try the basement, which is jam-packed with media review copies.

The super-sleek Moma shop in the Museum of Modern Art does a fine line in handsome prints and coffee-table books, but you’ll also find a carefully curated selection of stylish-looking objects for the home and office: kitchen gadgets, surreal lamps, games, Modernist alarm clocks, fridge magnets, slick ceramics, offbeat children’s toys and more. MoMA is a great shout if you’re bereft of inspiration for those important holiday gifts (11 W 53rd St).

Vintage clothing is only a small part of the appeal at Vintage Thrift – this is a place where you can find everything from a 1940s tea set to 1970s lounge furniture or the trappings of a 1930s dentist’s office. There are piles of old editions of Vogue, vintage typewriters and Victorian toys: it’s an absolute treasure trove of jumble. All proceeds go to the United Jewish Council, which supports elderly residents in the East Side (286 3rd Ave; closed Sat).

Brooklyn Flea
is arguably the best flea market in the city. Around 200 stalls set up on the grounds of a school in Fort Greene every Saturday, selling antiques, second-hand records, furniture, vintage clothes and crafts. In winter, the market goes indoors at One Hanson Place. On Sundays, the action moves to the East River Waterfront at Williamsburg (176 Lafayette Ave).

For the hundreds of stallholders who set up at Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market every Saturday and Sunday, haggling is expected. Trestle tables piled high with every kind of bric-a-brac, clothes and furniture, old family photos and antique jewellery invite leisurely browsing, while the regular Gourmet Food Truck bazaars include the city’s top street food vendors (426 W 39th St).

The Market NYC, a design market held in a loft-style space in Greenwich Village, is one of the best places to find the work of up-and-coming designers at bargain prices. Screenprinted T-shirts, jewellery, photography, home furnishings, handbags and art are all up for grabs – and don’t be afraid to haggle. Plus there are plenty of eclectic food stalls for a postshopping snack (159 Bleecker St; Wed–Sun).

Where to stay
East Village Bed and Coffee
is a family home turned offbeat, arty b&b with themed rooms and great amenities, such as free cycle hire and wi-fi. Each floor has shared common and kitchen space, with guests free to come and go as they please (from £90).

Inn on 23rd Street, set in a five-story townhouse in Chelsea, is a 14-room b&b with big, welcoming rooms, fancy fabrics and TVs held in huge armoires. There’s an honesty bar and a piano for you to play on in the lounge, plus a Victorian library that doubles as a breakfast room (from £170).

Sleeping in one of Hôtel Americano’s perfectly polished rooms is a bit like laying your head in a bento box, but with minimalist furniture rather than food. It offers everything from Turkish towels to Japanese washing cloths, with controls activated via personal iPads. You can explore surrounding Chelsea on a free guest bike (from £215).

Direct flights to New York’s JFK and Newark airports leave from Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham. Carriers include BA, United, Delta and Virgin Atlantic (from around £480; Once in New York City itself, it’s easiest to use public transport – the subway system is relatively simple to use (singles £1.50, seven-day passes £19;

The article 'Mini guide to shopping in New York' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.