Practical Life in Madrid

Shopping in Madrid

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Small family-run stores (tiendas) still constitute the bulk of Spanish retailers, although the shopping scene has been transformed in the last decade with the opening of numerous shopping centres (many beautifully designed) and hypermarkets, and the effects of the recession in the early1990s.

With the exception of markets, where haggling over the price is part of the enjoyment (except when buying food), retail prices are fixed in Spain and shown as PVP (precio de venta al público).

The best time to have a shopping spree is during the winter and summer sales (rebajas) in January-February and July-August respectively, when bargains (gangas) abound and prices are often slashed by 50% or more (the best bargains are usually clothes and shoes).

Shopping hours
Large stores may open on a maximum of 12 Sundays and public holidays (festivos) a year.

Most small shops open from between 08.30 and 09.30 (or earlier for food shops) until between 13.00 and 14.00 and from around 1700 until between 19.30 and 21.00, Monday to Friday, and from 10.00 until 14.00 on Saturdays. Note, however, that in some areas most shops are closed on Monday mornings. The list of opening hours is usually at the entrance of the shop

Department stores, hypermarkets and many supermarkets are open continually (without a break for a siesta!!) from around 09.30 or 10.00, until between 20.00 and 22.00 from Monday to Saturday. Department stores and hypermarkets may also open on Sundays (e.g. 10.00 to 15.00 or 12.00 to 20.00) and public holidays (e.g. 10.00 to 20.00). In Madrid there are 24-hour, American-style, drugstores comprising a supermarket, cafeteria, tobacconists and restaurant. Some shops close for the whole of August, when everyone is on holiday.

Department & chain stores
There are few department stores (grandes almacenes) in Spain and only two national chains, El Corte Inglés with around 35 stores and Galerías Preciados with 30 (which are now both owned by El Corte Inglés). El Corte Inglés is more upmarket than Galerías Preciados and stocks the best and most famous Spanish and international products.

El Corte Inglés department stores sell most internationally famous fashion and design labels and international fashion stores such as Bally, Benetton and Charles Jourdan have outlets throughout Spain. Other shops of note are

  • Cortefiel (branches in some 25 cities) selling middle of the road fashion at reasonable prices;
  • Don Algodón for fun fashion clothes for children and teenagers;
  • Zara for inexpensive fashion clothes for men, women and children;
  • Tokio which has a good selection of accessories such as hats, gloves, socks and swimwear.
  • Berschka : Cheap and fashion clothes for young people.

A number of foreign chain stores have outlets in Spain including Adam's (children's clothes), Benetton, Body Shop, C & A, Dorothy Perkins, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare and Presto.

Household Items
A wide range of modern and traditional furniture is available in Spain at reasonable prices. Modern furniture is popular and is often sold in huge stores in commercial centres. Reasonably priced furniture can also be purchased from large hypermarkets and more exclusive furniture from department stores such as El Corte Inglés. Pine and cane furniture is inexpensive and widely available. If you're looking for classic modern furniture, you may wish to try Roche Bobois, or Universo de la Piel for quality leather suites.

There's a large market for second-hand furniture in Spain and many sellers and dealers advertise in the expatriate press (there are also specialist newspapers for second-hand goods). There are do-it-yourself hypermarkets such as Texas Hiperhogar in most areas, selling everything for the home including DIY, furniture, bathrooms, kitchens, decorating and lighting, in addition to tool rental and wood cutting.

Update 6/04/2005


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