If you’re heading to sunny Spain anytime soon, besides sightseeing, feasting on tapas, sampling Spanish wines, topping up your tan, and hitting the beach, for many people a spot of shopping will also be on their “must do” list. If this is your plan there are a few things you need to know. Firstly, although the traditional siesta has virtually disappeared from Spanish culture, all shops close on a Sunday, except in Madrid, which has a special law allowing them to remain open. Generally opening times for shops will vary from one region to another, but you can more or less count on the hours of 8-10am and 8-9pm, with independent shops in smaller towns and villages closing for a lunch break. The currency in Spain is the Euro, but if you’re planning to make your purchases using a credit card, be sure to take your passport with you for identification – even at a supermarket. As for what to buy in Spain, there are many bargains on offer. Most towns have an outdoor town market, which takes place once a week, beginning at 8am and closing at 2pm. They are usually fun places where you’ll find all manner of goods from fruit, veg and bread, to clothes, shoes, household items, jewellery, linens and towels and sometimes more. Prices in markets are also often cheaper than in independent stores or department stores, and if you have a Spanish friend in tow, or you can speak Spanish, you’ll get a cheaper price if your bargain in the local language.
Among the shops and department stores you’ll find top quality leather goods, including shoes and jackets, and a combination of high street and local designer clothes, some of which will be different from the offerings at home. Besides Zara, which is a huge international brand these days, smaller high street and designer brands worth checking out include Mango, Massimo Dutti, Morgan and Carolina Herrera. Spain also has huge hypermarkets including Carrefour and Aldi, where you can buy almost anything, and for a visitor, besides groceries, useful things to put on a shopping list can include pharmacy items, cameras and batteries, beauty products and sunscreens, beach towels and more. If you live outside the European Union and visit Spain on holiday you can enjoy Tax Free shopping, which amounts to a saving of 21 per cent off the price of any items purchased while on holiday, and which you will take home, where the total bill exceeds €90.15. If you shop at a store which doesn’t automatically deduct the tax from your purchases (meaning they are not part of the Tax Free Spain Refund service), you will have to claim the tax back at the airport before you check your bags in – so build in extra time on departure if required. Keep all your receipts handy, and any purchases in case customers want to check them.