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Spain - Shopping

For expats in Spain online shopping is becoming a popular option and many people are using websites for shopping when they need gifts or items which they can normally get in their home country. While there are good regular shops in most urban areas, the people that miss out are usually the ones living in rural or remote areas. The general standard of consumer goods in Spain is excellent. Locally produced items are good quality and many branded items from the UK or the US are available.

Cities such as Madrid and Barcelona have large shopping centres which sell anything and everything and the type of shops available are similar to those which can be found in the UK or the US. It is also common for staff in the shops to have a basic knowledge of several languages. If you are shopping in smaller villages then the shops are smaller, have less variety of goods and will normally be much more expensive than in the city.

The opening hours for shops will vary according to the region. Most shops open around 10 am, although they will close at 2 pm for the siesta time. Most will then open again at 5 pm and remain open until 8 pm, although in some areas this can be 9 or 10 pm. Larger stores in busier areas will not shut for the siesta and in most areas the shops will be closed on Sundays and public holidays.

The hypermarket is a popular shopping option in Spain and these can be found in most urban areas. They are normally on the edge of town and some of the most popular ones are Eroski and Hipercor. These shops sell practically anything that you need and most have a wide range of goods from other countries. The traditional market place is still popular in Spain and these are usually open from 9 am to 2 pm. Most will sell a variety of produce from groceries to clothes and crafts.

Supermarkets are common in most towns and Dia is one of the most widespread chains. They are popular due to their low prices but in many areas the Spanish still favour the corner shop and individual stores such as bakeries and delicatessens. This is because they feel that they get a much more friendly and personalized service there.

When paying for goods in a shop most people will use a debit or credit card. Cheques are not a common form of payment. Most shops in Spain will not take the 500 Euro note.

It is traditional to have a sale at Christmas and in the summer. The summer sale will begin on the 1st July and run until the end of August and at this time of year some shops will choose to open on a Sunday with longer opening hours than usual. Christmas sales begin on the 7th January and will continue until the beginning of March. It is common for the discounts to get greater as the sale goes on and shoppers should be wary as the latest price is not always shown on the ticket.

When you purchase goods in Spain there is usually a warranty of 2 years, but this depends on the item. Customers are entitled to a refund or an alternative product if the goods are determined to not be as they were described at the time of the sale. For the first six months you can get a refund or a partial refund if the item is faulty. The customer has the right to choose between a repair or a replacement item, although there may not be both options available, depending upon the circumstances. If the retailer is not able to offer these options the sale contract can be terminated and a refund given.

All shops should keep a book or form for use if a customer wishes to complain. The customer has the right to complain about the level of service given, the item being faulty or staff giving incorrect information. When this is completed the customer should be given a copy and he/she then has the right to go to the Consumer Rights Institute, which is part of the government.

Useful Resources

Instituto Nacional del Consumo
Government-run consumer rights department

Read more about this country

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