Shopping in the US

Shopping in the US

Rockefeller Center, NYC

If you enjoy shopping the US is a fabulous destination. Pretty much every settlement of any size will have a large shopping mall and if you are a bargain hunter it is well worth checking to see if there is an outlet mall in the vicinity of your trip.

We have found that there are often significant savings to be had on a range of goods;

  • clothing, especially from brands such as Gap, Banana Republic, J Crew, Anthropologie, Levis, North Face and Nike
  • footwear, especially trainers
  • electrical goods but beware of voltage differences – see our information on electricity
  • toiletries
  • cosmetics and sunscreen

Before you make for the shops, be aware that Sales tax (the equivalent of VAT in the UK) is not included on the sticker price of goods but is added at the till when you pay. This can come as a nasty surprise when the total bill is larger than you expect! Sales tax is levied by individual States and therefore varies from State to State.

The best summary I can find illustrating sales tax by State is the following Wikipedia link.

To find out how much the sales tax is in the States you intend to visit I would just google the place you are going to and ‘sales tax’.

As sales taxes are imposed by State, rather than the Federal government there is no scheme by which you can claim sales tax back at the airport as there is for non-EU visitors and VAT. If you are visiting several different places it is worth checking out the various tax rates to see where the most economical place to shop is.

When shopping in the US, it is also worth bearing in mind that there are limits on what you can bring back into the UK before you have to pay a range of taxes. See the HMRC website for full information.