If you know Spain or if you have moved to the Iberian peninsula you already know that Spain is not all about relaxed schedules but quite the contrary.
For instance, Spain is a very modern European country but… with warm weather benefits!
In fact, a recent study shows than the Siesta has indeed disappeared from the Spanish habits, less than 7% of Spanish have afternoon naps.Living and working in Spain is not all about the sunshine and tapas. Spanish people work hard and have very similar working hours than the rest of the European working class with an average of 40 hours of work a week.
What really changes is people’s personal habits when eating, shopping and going out!
This time, we are going to review how a typical shopping day will be like in Spain.
As a Spanish native and shopping addict myself, I have lived and shopped in different regions of Spain my entire life so I can certainly give you some tips from a local’s perspective.
Ok, so let’s pretend you want to organize a shopping day with a friend on the weekend. First of all, you must be aware that all shops close on Sunday, except in Madrid where a recent law allows shops to remain open on God’s day. So your shopping must be done on a Saturday!
Bare in mind that opening and closing times may vary from one region to another but not from much.
If you are after high-street clothes retailers, note that they normally open at 10am and close between 8pm and 9pm every day (except Sunday). There is no interruption for lunch time in big city centers’ high streets like Barcelona or Madrid.
However, if you want to shop in smaller cities or towns you must know that shops and retailers in Spain close for lunch time.
Spanish shops and businesses still follow the old tradition of a long lunch and siesta break. In small towns and villages all business (bakery, dentist, post office, tailor) close from 1pm-2pm to 5pm. So, in a small town shops are open from 9am-10am to 1pm-2pm and then from 4pm-5pm to 8pm-9pm. Make sure you are aware of these closing gap when planning an escape to a town in order to shop, otherwise you might have to wait for 4 hours before you can start shopping!
One tip, if you are in Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia don’t worry: the main shops in the heart of the city won’t close for lunch time (ex: El Corte Ingles, Mango, Zara, Massimo Dutti). But if you prefer more boutique type or designer shops then you might have to shop before 2pm or after 5pm because, even in Barcelona, independent shops do take their lunch break!
A typical shopping day in Spain
I love shopping in Spain. There are so many high-street and local designers shops to choose from! Quality is great (especially for leather shoes and jackets), prices are attractive, shops are bright and spacious and there is always loud music playing on along with happy and well presented staff!
I love shopping with my mom who remains my best friend no matter how old I get.
Typically, we will leave home in order to get to the city center at around elevenish. As we arrive, we will head straight away to a local cafe (we call them bars) to enjoy a creamy macchiato while reading the newspaper (I must confess, some serious dress and makeup session was done before leaving home; in Spain women tend to look after their image). Then we would stroll down the main shopping street checking shops like Mango, Zara, Massimo Dutti, Morgan, Adolfo Dominguez and Carolina Herrera amongst other fashion chains.
But Spain is also a great place if you like to shop in small boutique owned shops in order to find different clothes. They offer quality and design at a low price. Thankfully, Spain has not been completely invaded (…yet) by massive capitalist brands, those that you can find anywhere in the world (ok, I must say that Zara is a bad example as it is an international Spanish brand). Of course, big known brands are predominant in the high streets but you can easily find numerous small boutiques in between, which is perfect for me as I love both options!
So, coffee, shopping, trying on, hesitating, buying, regretting, buying more.. laughing… after long 4 hours of exciting shopping we would get hungry. I like avoiding rush hours at restaurants so I prefer going for lunch between 2.15pm and 3pm. If my little shops close during lunch time, I make sure I optimize my shopping experience by visiting El Corte Ingles: this shopping mall never closes during the day. In fact, el Corte Ingles is the most famous shopping mall in Spain for fashion, electronics and food (from high street brands to high-end designer brands for kids, men, women, beauty products, home fashion and much more). You could perfectly spend a whole afternoon checking all floors at El Corte Ingles.
At around 3pm we would normally go for a Menu del Dia or, if we are not that hungry, for a plato combinado (a combo dish). In general, Spanish bars only offer the Menu del Dia (daily fix price menu) on weekdays but in the city center it is not abnormal to also find it on Saturdays. After a relaxing 3 courses meal including a glass of wine, coffee and bread (normally costing 12€) we try to go to the theater, to a temporary exhibition or enjoy a nice walk if the weather is nice while deciding on the last buy of the day.
On Saturday, Spanish people normally hit the streets from 6pm on winter and from 7pm on summer.
You will certainly notice that in Spain people do the same things at the same time in mass, like going for a bocadillo (second turn breakfast baguette in a bar) at 11am – 12am, go for a Menu del Dia at 1.30pm – 2pm, hit the shops at 6pm -7pm, go for beers and tapas at 8pm-9pm and go clubbing at 2am.
That is why I love going back to the shops before the rush hour and finish my daily shopping at 7pm, big maximum. Afterwards, I love stopping at a nice supermarket on the way for food (If I am in town I would go to the Hypercor) before driving back home where I would try on my clothes and prepare some light tapas with my mom!
So just remember these facts:
-Shops open from 10am to 8-9pm in the big cities
-Shops close from 2pm to 5pm in smaller cities (and also independent shops in big cities)
-Shops and supermarkets are closed on Sunday (except in Madrid’s city center)
-Spanish eat lunch between 1pm and 3.30pm
-Spanish people love shopping at around 6.30pm
-Spanish love to have a coffee or a hot chocolate with cake (or churros) at 5pm-6pm
-You can have a lovely bocadillo (filled baguette) and tapas at anytime in any bar.. !
-The local currency is the Euro: €
I hope you enjoy shopping in Spain. Please share these recommendations from a native Spanish Perspective and let me know what are your favorite shops in Spain by leaving a comment below or your photos on the Facebook page!