Most stores are open 10am to 2pm and 4:30pm to 8pm Monday to Saturday. Department stores and other large shops don’t close at lunch time.
Barcelona’s big sales (rebaixes) come twice a year, from 1 July to the end of August and from 7 January until the end of February.
Non-EU citizens can claim an IVA (VAT) refund on most purchases over €90 when they leave Spain. Shops displaying the tax-free logo will provide a tax-refundable receipt, which you present before checking-in on departure. IVA (VAT) of 16 per cent (7 per cent on food) is included in the advertised price. IVA for hotels is 7 per cent, which is not always included in the price.
Leather items are a good buy in Spain and are of high quality. There are good shoe stores on Carrer Portal de l’Àngel, Carrer Pelai, Rambla de Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia. Loewe and Kastoria sell quality leather goods.
Antiques aficionados will be richly rewarded with a stroll along Carrer Banys Nous and Carrer de la Palla in the Barri Gòtic. For more antique finds, head to the Bulevard dels Antiquaris on Passeig de Gràcia, home to over 60 antiques and arts shops. The antique markets, including the Mercat dels Antiquaris and the Port Vell antique market, at weekends (10am–8pm), are also worth a browse.
High-end clothing stores dot Passeig de Gràcia and Avinguda Diagonal. For trendier gear, head to Carrer Portaferrissa and Carrer Pelai. Spain’s success story is the wildly popular men’s and women’s contemporary clothing chain Zara, which is all over town (and all over Europe). Another universal favourite is Mango, targeted towards younger women, which also has branches all over the city. If you’re looking to buy local, there are a number of top-end Catalan designers, including Antonio Miró.
Clothing sizes tend to be small in Spain. Size conversions for women’s clothing are: US/UK 6/8 is 36; 8/10 is 38; 10/12 is 40; 12/14 is 42; 14/16 is 44. For men’s clothing, the conversions are: US & UK 36 is 46; 38 is 48; 40 is 50; 42 is 52.
FNAC has a vast music selection, as does the department store El Corte Inglés. Equally popular among locals are the small eclectic music shops along Carrer Tallers. Also worth a look are the CD and vinyl music shops on nearby Carrer Riera Baixa.
Vip’s is an all-purpose drugstore-bookstore-café, where you can buy books, gifts, beer, wine and snacks. Open Cor sells everything from fresh flowers to wrapping paper, beer and wine.
Barcelona’s leading department store is El Corte Inglés, which has branches across the city. You can find seemingly everything under one roof, including a supermarket and a gourmet food shop.