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Shopping in the US while Traveling for Tourist Vacation

By Charles Hopkins Published 12/9/2013 | Travel

Many tourists visiting the USA on vacation enjoy shopping for bargains. Among the more popular items for shoppers from other countries, according to surveys, are American whiskey, fashion jeans, children¡¦s clothing, plush bath towels and fine bed linen. You can find many bargains in the US if you know where to shop and how to take advantage of the competitive sales. So here¡¦s a guide to shopping while traveling in the United States, and a list of facts you need to remember:

- The big shopping malls are in the suburbs: Which is not to say that US cities no longer have any department stores and downtown shopping areas, but the big shopping malls and discount stores are usually located in the suburban communities. Some of the major outlet centers are located in the countryside, miles from the nearest major city. So obviously, it is best to have an automobile at your disposal if you want to do any serious bargain shopping

- Department stores offer good quality and high fashion: Department stores are large establishments that offer a wide choice of items including fashion clothing, household wares, appliances, luggage and jewelry. They normally offer good quality merchandise, well known brands and the latest fashions at bargain prices, which could be a steal for those shopping while traveling

- Most department stores have seasonal sales: With attractive discounts, we might add. At such times, you can get high quality or fashion merchandise at bargain prices. In July and August, stores have end-of-summer sales. In November, the Thanksgiving Day sale of pre-Christmas merchandise is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. From December 26 through mid-January, the stores hold big after-Christmas sales. In February, all the winter merchandise goes on sale. In addition, they have many special promotions and clearance sales, so shopping is a breeze

- Big department stores are typically parts of national chains: So you can find the same stores in many cities. The chains normally have a downtown store in a major city with several branches in the surrounding suburban malls. For the uninitiated, here are the names of some well-known national department stores ¡V Lord & Taylor, Hecht¡¦s, Strawbridge¡¦s, Kaufman¡¦s, Filene¡¦s, Macy¡¦s, Bloomingdale¡¦s, Burdine¡¦s, Lazarus, Rich¡¦s, Nordstrom¡¦s, Saks, Dayton-Hudson¡¦s, Marshall¡¦s and Bergdorf-Goodman

- General merchandise stores also offer affordable quality: Sears and JC Penny¡¦s are two large national chains with outlets across the USA that offer high-value shopping. They are similar to department stores but they do not stock high fashion merchandise or prestige brands. Instead, they feature medium-range but quality merchandise at affordable prices. They are known for children¡¦s clothing, home appliances, and other household items. Sears is also famous for its tools and lawn and garden products

- Discount stores sell at low prices: Discount stores sell some good quality merchandise at affordable prices and some lower quality merchandise at really low prices. If you are not shopping for the latest fashions, or famous brands, or the best quality items, you can find some very inexpensive merchandise at a discount store. Some famous discount chains with stores across the US are K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target and Caldor

- Shop in outlet malls for great bargains: Like elsewhere in the world, outlet stores or factory outlets sell high quality merchandise with a well-known brand at discounted prices. The items usually contain slight manufacturing defects and are leftovers from last season or the previous year. As a result, they are always discounted 20%-40% below department store prices. Other than end-of-season sales at a department store, outlet stores offer the best bargains. Outlet malls for top brand names like Levi¡¥s, Ralph Lauren, Timberland, and Pioneer can be found in most states, so you pack in traveling, sightseeing and shopping in one package

- Learn the difference between state and local sales taxes: The US government does not impose VAT (value-added tax) on merchandise as many other countries do, but most states and some cities collect a sales tax on all purchases. State taxes usually range from 4%-8%. Some cities add an additional 2%. So when you buy something for $1, you pay $1.08. Some states exempt all clothing and food items from sales tax. If you buy something big like a car or motorcycle, state clearly that it will be exported and you can usually obtain a sales tax exemption

- Know your sizes and electronics: Clothing measurements in the USA are based on inches, so remember that 1 inch = 2.5 cm. Similarly, if you buy electric appliances or electronics in the US, remember that all electrical items are normally 110v and 60Hz and make sure the item is adaptable to your local electric supply. US televisions, video recorders and cell phones also use different standards than most other countries, so you need to shop carefully

SOME SHOPPING AREAS YOU MUST VISIT

The Mall of America, Bloomington: A trip to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota is not like any other shopping trip. An average of 35 million people shop at the mall each year, and you will probably end up spending an entire day there. Shopping becomes a great experience with all the stores, restaurants, theatres, and even an amusement park. Just a few miles from the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, the Mall of America boasts 520 stores in one 78-acre location and reportedly attracts more travelers annually than Disney World, Graceland, and the Grand Canyon combined

Michigan¡¦s Main Street: Take a stroll along Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan for sophisticated entertainment and choice shopping. You will find that this famous shopping district is home to countless fashionable retail shops, posh galleries, fine restaurants, and exclusive nighttime entertainment.

Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway: Whether you¡¦re looking for posh shops or mainstream retail outlets, the Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway in California has it all. There are glamorous boutiques and family restaurants, Bohemian galleries, and traditional five-and-dimes. The parkway runs through Los Angeles, another prime city for shopping. And for a truly world-class shopping experience, visit South Pasadena and find exceptional purchasing opportunities. That¡¦s true shopping-cum-traveling for you

The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas: Discover extraordinary shopping experiences along the Las Vegas Strip with its larger-than-life atmosphere and mix of ethnic flavor and flamboyance. Shopping addicts will want to stop by the Arabian-themed shops at the Aladdin Hotel, or the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, complete with gondoliers and canals, just two of the area¡¦s outlandish but wonderful shopping hotspots
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