August 24, 2016 No Comments

Savvy Shopping In Spain – What You Need To Know

Just about every town will hold a weekly local market where you can buy fresh produce at knockdown prices, along with a municipal market that will typically be open from 9 am till 2 pm. These are excellent resources for fresh produce, poultry and fish at good prices.

During the last 5 to 10 years, supermarkets in Spain have improved immensely. Unlike in past years, many supermarkets now open all day, ignoring the siesta, and often until lunchtime on Sundays. There was a time where goods on offer were rather limited and a trip to the UK and the subsequent yearned-for tour of Tescos or Sainsbury’s was a real treat for expats who had been long deprived of their favourite convenience foods.

These days however, you will find branches of many large global supermarkets in Spain such as Aldi and Lidl, both of which originated in Germany, with great offers. Spanish chains Mercadona and Caprabo have also increased their product range quite extensively in recent years, and now there is really no reason to miss UK supermarkets at all. You will find a number of UK products in the larger supermarkets such as tinned goods and sauces, and if you live in a resort there are bound to be a shops or delivery companies supplying frozen and packaged foods from the UK, although the higher price will reflect the import charges the company pays to get the food to Spain.

When Spain converted to the euro in 2002, food prices rose considerably like many other items, as Spain endeavoured to be more in line with the expectations of northern European countries. But while the cost of living when it comes to food prices became considerably more expensive almost overnight, grocery prices are still relatively low compared to the rest of Europe.

Prices will vary a fair bit from shop-to-shop in the same town. Like in the UK, you can expect to pay more in small corner shops than in a supermarket chain, but it is good to support your local shopkeepers where possible, as having a shop in close vicinity for emergency items is always a good thing. Shops in the centre of a resort are also likely to be more expensive due to high rentals, so avoid these if you are on a limited monthly budget.

Once you have been living in your chosen town for a few months, you will most likely find your food bills get lower and you reduce the cost of your monthly grocery shopping by a significant amount simply due to your local knowledge of the shops in your area; as you learn where you can buy your favourite items for the best price.

Alcohol

Alcohol remains cheaper in Spain than Northern European countries, but again prices vary quite a lot depending on the product and where you buy it. Expect to pay about 3.60€ for six cans of a Spanish brand beer such as San Miguel in a large supermarket, or about 1.80€ for the same quantity for the supermarket’s own brand. The same beer in a small shop will likely cost around 4.80€ – 0.20 cent more per can. A bottle of cheap wine will set you back little more than a euro, and you can expect to find a bottle of the much more palatable Rioja wine for around 4.00€.

Alcohol prices in bars can vary greatly – if the establishment has live music or is a late night venue, expect to pay at least double what you would pay in the average Spanish bar or café. Again this is knowledge that is only really learned after you lived in an area for a while, but a general rule of the thumb is if you do not see a price list in full clear view, the place is likely to be one of the more expensive spots.

Don’t be afraid to ask the price before ordering if you are unsure – everyone has a personal budget and paying three times what you expected when you are on a limited income does not usually lead to an enjoyable night out.

Further reading:

Daily Mail: How Aldi and Lidl have driven local prices down by 26%


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