The number of shopping malls and retail parks is spiralling in Spain. There are a number of advantages to using these sites. Perhaps most attractive for many is the fact that they are usually open throughout the day rather than sticking to the traditional Spanish opening times of 9.00 until 2.00pm and 5.00pm until late. Best of both worlds for some – open throughout the day and into the night too.
From these vast shopping centres you can expect a consistency in quality and predictable stock. By and large, you will see the same stores in every park. Expect to see for clothes, Zara, Mango, Pull and Bear, Decathlon, Stradivarius, Jack and Jones. There’s likely to be a hypermarket such as Carrefour or Alcampo somewhere close by and a DIY giant such as Leroy Merlin or AKI. Parking is easy, there are plenty of opportunities for refreshment and it is quite understandable that people have been seduced into spending their money there.
However, there are alternatives. El Corte Ingles remains the most well-known department store in Spain. It can be found in most major cities and has something of that feel good factor that comes with products at the upper end of the market. This department store can be split up into several different sites in a town centre so check the store guide before travelling up too many escalators.
There are two main sale times in Spain. The summer sales run from 1st July to 31st August and the first day of the winter sale is usually around the 7th January. This sales period, just after the three kings, usually lasts until the 1st March. You can expect to see some particularly spectacular reductions at the end of the sales season. From the 1st September it is ‘Semana Fantástica’ as they try to move the very last items from the shelves.
Don’t neglect the town centre if you are looking for a bargain or something special. The smaller shops here can be an Aladdin’s cave and you will often be served with extra care and personal attention in a way that might be missing in the out-of-town chain store. Don’t forget that although chip and pin is far more common in Spain than it used to be, it’s unlikely to be available in smaller boutiques and local shops.
Shopping in Spain has much to recommend it. Take your time, enjoy your day and have a long leisurely lunch – if you’ve not spent up!