Spain Shopping Information
Spain was not ever regarded as one of Europe’s great shopping countries either for bargains or for the quality of goods but these days Spain has improved a considerable amount and the price of consumer goods have fallen in recent years. The bulk of Spanish retailers still mainly consist of small family run shops although the introduction of shopping centres in Spain and hypermarkets over the last decade or so has transformed the shopping scene and many retailers have relocated to these out of town locations which has in turn left some high streets abandoned and run down.
One of the biggest drawbacks to shopping within city centres in Spain has always been parking although many cities have now improved parking facilities and pedestrianised many of the streets to lure shoppers away from the big shopping centres. The best times to shop in Spain, especially for clothes, is during the sales which take place in January to February and July to August each year. During these months you can get some real bargains in Spain with reductions of 50 to 70 percent.
Shopping in Spain may be somewhat different to what you may be used to, especially in market places and small shops. The Spanish do not believe in queuing up and it is quite normal for people to simply push and shove their way to the front, do not expect the shop assistants to serve customers in order and make yourself known when it is your turn to be served or take a numbered ticket from a dispenser when you want to purchase something from the deli, meat or cheese counters.
When shopping in major cities, towns or tourist areas in Spain make sure you keep your valuables safe as pickpockets and bag snatchers are unfortunately all too common. Shopping hours in Spain can vary and depend on the town, city or region you may be in, there are no real mandatory closing days or hours for retail outlets in Spain although large shops must open a minimum of eight Sundays and public holidays per year.
One of the biggest surprises for tourists when shopping in Spain is the long afternoon siesta which is when the majority of shops close from 1.30pm or 2.00pm until 4 or 5pm. Other than the large shopping centres and supermarkets in Spain there is no such thing as afternoon shopping in Spain. Most shops however open from around 9.00am to 2.00pm then from 5.00pm to 9 or 10.00pm Monday to Friday and from 9.30am to 2.00pm on Saturday’s.
The large department stores and shopping centres are open from 10.00am to 10.00pm Monday to Saturday and also on certain Sunday’s and public holiday’s. The Opencor chain which is part of the El Corte Ingles retail giant has stores throughout Spain and is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
In general, shops in Spain close for one whole day and one half day per week, this is usually on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday. In Madrid and other city centres some shops close for the whole month of August when most people are on holiday.