New York: Thanksgiving and Black Friday bargains

By: Virgin Atlantic

November 26, 2019

New York's Fifth Avenue © Maxine Sheppard

New York's Fifth Avenue © Maxine Sheppard

Knowing where to find New York’s best Thanksgiving and Black Friday deals can be a guessing game. Many stores don’t reveal their opening hours and offers until the last minute, leaving those planning a shopping trip with little time to plan.

But if you’re flying to JFK this week we can help out, with some tips for making the most of NYC’s best deals.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, a federal holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. It’s regarded as the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, and in recent years opening hours have become earlier and discounts more extreme, resulting in snaking queues and even some overnight campers. The name – which originated in Philadelphia due to the snarled-up traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving – has an alternative explanation too: it’s the point in the year at which retailers traditionally begin to turn a profit and head back into ‘the black’, after operating in the red for most of the year.


Macy's Herald Square, NYC © Naoki Nakashima/Flickr Creative Commons

Macy’s Herald Square, NYC © Naoki Nakashima/Flickr Creative Commons

Who are New York’s big players?

Department stores, big fashion brands, electronics chains and tech stores tend to offer the best deals, sometimes reducing prices by as much as 80%. A strategy often used by these big-name retailers is to announce limited quantity, ultra cheap ‘doorbusters’ with extravagant discounts for those who are first to arrive, fuelling levels of anticipation and, some say, desperation. Over the last few years things have gone even further, with some stores opening on the evening of Thanksgiving Day itself. After bringing forward their opening hours from 5 or 6 a.m on Black Friday morning to midnight on Thanksgiving, this – rightly or wrongly – was probably an inevitability.

Bloomingdales NYC © Wikimedia Commons

Bloomingdales NYC © Wikimedia Commons

Macy’s is one such department store due to open at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day, then a full 24 hours on Black Friday. Expect to find major discounts on everything from jewellery and watches to designer handbags, sunglasses and shoes, not to mention all men’s and women’s fashion lines and home goods. Bloomingdales, on the other hand, is far less gung ho, only offering sale prices from 7 a.m onwards on Black Friday, and only on selected lines. Other department stores worth keeping an eye on include Barney’s New York, (which is also closing down), offering up to 35% off selected designer goods; upmarket Lord & Taylor who’ll open at 6 a.m on Black Friday, offering between 50–80% off hundreds of lines, and Nordstrom, expected to open around 7 or 8 a.m if previous years are anything to go by, with about 25% off their clearance lines, plus other specific deals on accessories, shoes and cosmetics. Keep an eye on their website though, as they’re known for announcing some unbeatable deals at the very last minute.

This year, everyone’s favourite affordable fashion chain Old Navy will open its doors at 3pm on Thanksgiving Day, leaving superkeen shoppers barely enough time to finish their turkey. Stores will also stay open around the clock, right until 11pm on Black Friday. Like previous years, it’s offering a blanket 50% off everything in store, so expect to see huge numbers once again at its Manhattan locations. Likewise, hip chain Urban Outfitters has seen some insane crowds in recent years, and along with sister brand Anthropolgie, you should be able to find 50% off thousands of items the entire Thanksgiving weekend.

Best Buy‘s multiple Manhattan locations are the best place to head for deals on electrical items, gadgets, tablets and phones. Previous year’s offers have included massive savings on items such as iPads, Kindle Fires and Samsung Galaxys, and – as with Macy’s – its Thanksgiving Day opening hours meant those prepared to sacrifice their holiday dinner were first in line for a bargain. Keen photographers should also check out B&H Photo Video, the largest non-chain photo and video store in the USA, for exceptional deals on cameras, lenses and video equipment. They also stock computers and mobiles and have previously had some of the cheapest deals around on Apple products over Thanksgiving weekend.

Festive season in NYC © Michael Vadon/Flickr Creative Commons

Festive season in NYC © Michael Vadon/Flickr Creative Commons

How to find the best deals

As many retailers play their cards close to their chests in the run up to Thanksgiving, the best way to be in the know is to sign up to the email newsletters of those stores you plan to visit. Many brands give their email subscribers advance notice of offers before the big TV ads go out on air, and some include further discount codes or coupons for extra savings. Check out company websites in the days leading up to the big weekend – last-minute bargains are added all the time – and don’t forget to pick up a couple of local papers once you actually land in New York for details of any exclusive deals or one-off opportunities.

If you’re stuck for gift ideas or want to discover stores you may have never heard of, then keep an eye on some of the dedicated websites who track everything under one roof. is one of the most comprehensive, and you can also try, and the Black Friday section of

Heading to the Big Apple? Discover some of the best flight deals of 2019 with Virgin Atlantic’s Black Friday sale.

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