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Shopping for Expats in Italy

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: July 2014

Italy, along with its rich history and architecture, is widely known for shopping. Tourists flock from all over the world to Italy with shopping as their sole aim, every city can be considered a shoppers paradise. With shops selling anything from high street and high fashion clothing, perfumes, make-up, antiques, souvenirs and leather, there is something for everyone. From Milan in the north to Catania in the south, you will shop till you drop.

If you are planning to visit Italy briefly or if you are planning on a longer stay, the fashion shops are a must see especially in the larger cities. Milan is one of top fashion capitals in the world and Florence has top international brands next to common high street shops.  Florence also has some outlet and discount factory shops located 20-35kms away from the city centre. This includes outlets for Prada, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Armani and Sergio Rossi. For more shopping information in Florence, see here: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g187895-Activities-c26-Florence_Tuscany.html.  

For your everyday needs there are plenty of supermarkets and small shops available. The supermarkets can offer a large variety of goods and services, including certain foods from all over the world. There are many superstores in Italy, a selection of them with their websites are listed below: 

VAT (imposta sul valore aggiunto (IVA)) is charged at the standard rate of 22% on the supply of goods and services by Italian business entities. If you are visiting Italy from a country out of EEA, you should be able to get the tax back. To qualify, your purchase should be over EUR165 and you will need to ask for a tax refund form at the time of purchase. If you have used a credit card you may be able to get the refund straight away in the shop, otherwise you will need to get the refund from the Customs desk in the airport.  Be aware that you may need to factor in plenty of time as the queues can become quite long.

In Italy, the return policy may differ from the policy in your home country. Some of the larger stores offer a cooling off period or easily accept the return of goods in a resalable condition. However, you should check the returns policy before you make a purchase as many tourists have shared their experiences of not being able to return items for a refund. You may be able to exchange items for something else if you cannot return the goods. 


Online shopping

Online shopping is popular in Italy, many high street stores and superstores have their own online websites. You can buy what you want online from all over the world from sites such as Amazon and ebay but you need to be aware that this is a form of importation. Therefore, this may trigger custom duties and VAT, some items are prohibited and cannot enter Italy. Before making any purchases it is wise to check what is restricted, the Royal Mail provides useful information if you are mailing from the UK: https://www.royalmail.com/italy.


Shopping hours

Shops normally open six days a week with most shops closing on Sundays, except for some big stores which may open seven days a week. Typical hours in a day are listed as below:

Mondays to Saturdays
8am to 1pm; 3pm to 7pm

Many shops and department stores open from 9am to 7:30pm.  Superstores are often open from 9am to 9pm, with shorter business hours on Sunday.



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