The big cities, particularly Madrid and Barcelona, are home to large shopping centres that will usually sell anything and everything; you are more than likely to find the shops you know and love in the UK here. Staff in these shops are more likely to have a basic understanding of English. Once you start shopping into the smaller villages, you will find that that the shops are smaller with probably a less variety of goods at a higher price than in the bigger cities.
The best shopping in Barcelona is widely believed to be the pedestrian ways of Las Ramblas, Placa de Catalunya, Passeig de Gràci and Avenue Diagonol. Trendy boutiques can also be found at El Born. The malls and shopping centres of the city are full of world-class designer stores like Armani and Burberry as well as Spanish outlets such as Zara and Mango.
Almost anything can be bought in Madrid, everything from the sophisticated to the unique. There are a number of boutiques in the Salamanca district, including local Spanish designers such as Victorio & Lucchino, Roberto Verino and many more. Every September this area is home to Vogue Fashion Night Out – and is also the best place in Spain to buy diamonds and other precious stones.
Fashionable Puerta del Sol is known for its department stores, fashion chain stores and Spanish outlets like Zara, Mango and Blanco. Plaza de Callao is home to FNAC, a large music and bookstore, and Plaza Mayor, Gan Via and Puerta del Sol are the more traditional shopping areas, selling vintage cultural wares and traditional Spanish items.
Shop opening hours thoughout Spain will vary depending on region, but most shops will be open from 10am to 8pm – and closed between 2-5pm for a siesta. In some areas, shops will be open until later and not always close for the siesta. Shops will usually only open on Saturday mornings, and will be closed on Sundays and public holidays. Shopping centres, department stores and supermarkets are open all day on Saturday and on the first Sunday of every month. In Madrid at Christmas, shopping malls have longer trading hours and will be open every Sunday.
Sales are common in the winter, and in the summer. The winter sales usually begin on 7th January and run until the beginning of March, whilst the summer sales will run from 1st July until the end of August. At this time of year many shops will open on a Sunday and have longer opening hours than normal. The longer the sales go on, the lower the prices will be.
All goods purchased will usually come with a warranty of 2 years, although this does depend on the item. All customers are entitled to a refund or an alternative product if goods not as described at time of sale. If an item is faulty you are entitled to a refund within 6 months, and should be able to choose between a repair or a replacement item.
Food shopping is usually done in the hypermarket in most urban areas. These will be found on the edge of towns. Some of the most popular supermarkets include Eroski and Hipercor, and here you will find almost anything you need, including a range of goods from other countries.
Supermarkets are also common across the country, and are popular due to their low prices. In many areas though, the Spanish still favour corner shops and individual stores such as bakeries and delicatessens – there is still something to be said for a friendly and personalised service! The traditional marketplace is still popular in Spain, and these will usually be open daily from 9am to 2pm, selling a variety of produce including groceries, clothes and crafts. Madrid in particular is well known for its food and flea market – some of the most popular include:
- The Old and Bargain Book Fair
- Stamp and Coin Market
- El Rastro – this is the most popular and oldest market in Madrid
- Mercado San Miguel – this market dates back to 1916