The island of St. Thomas is a duty-free shopping zone, meaning that items purchased there are free from sales, import, and luxury taxes.  Because of this, the island, and its small village of East End, have become known as shopping havens among visitors.  Many of the items found for sale on the island are of the luxury variety, such a gold jewelry, perfumes, cigars, and fine liquors.  The demand for these products is fueled all year long by the almost one million cruise ship passengers who stop there each year as well as the thousands of other visitors who stay at the island's many luxury resorts.

The East End area of the island is small, but has several shops, mostly selling high-end items such as the above-mentioned as well as china, porcelain, leather goods, and crystal.  US citizens are allowed to purchase and take home up to $1600 worth of goods from St. Thomas shops free of duty charges.