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Shopping for Expats in Portugal

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: October 2014

When you are in Portugal, shopping is one of the most important activities in your daily life, whether you are just in Portugal for a short period or you are settling in Portugal permanently.For everyday shopping, you can go to supermarkets or small shops. Supermarkets offer a large variety of goods, including foods from all over the world. They are normally situated outside of the town or city centre, though there are always strong transport links. Many big supermarkets also have small convenience stores all over the country. Some of the popular chains are Aldi, Auchan, E Leclerc, Lidl, Mini Preço (‘low price’), Modelo Continente, Pão de Açúcar (‘sugar loaf’), Pingo Doce (‘sweet drop’) and Spar. There should also be markets in the city or town centre, where you can buy some fresh but cheap vegetables, meat and seafood.

Unlike France and Italy, Portugal is not a particularly famous as a shopping destination. However, you can find most of the international brands in Portugal just as in other countries, although the prices are generally a little higher than those in France. If you want to buy fashionable clothes, household goods and electrical equipment, you normally need to go to the city or town centre. Nearly every town or city has at least one main shopping street, where you can find lots of shops providing different goods and services. You may find large shopping centres or department shores on such streets.

The most famous shopping centre in Portugal is probably Cascais Shopping Centre (www.cascaishopping.pt), also said to be the biggest shopping centre in Western Europe. It has about 240 shops with a total floor area of 75,000m2. There are also some specialties in Portugal, such as different kinds of souvenirs of the galo de barcelos, a brightly-cloloured cockerel, porcelains and soft wood products.

Portugal imposes Value Added Tax at the rate of 23% on most merchandise, although the rate is slightly lower in Madeira and the Azores.  If you are visiting Portugal from a country in the European Economic Area, you should be able to get a tax rebate on this. For more on eligibility and the procedure to get the rebate, visit this page: https://www.globalblue.com/destinations/portugal/tax-free-shopping-in-portugal/.

As an EU member country, Portugal has a 14-day cooling-off period from the date of purchase. However, this may not be always in force. While large stores may offer you the cooling-off period or easily accept the return of goods if in a resaleable condition, smaller shops may have their own return policy, which you should check before making a purchase.

Online shopping

Online shopping is popular in Portugal. Most of large stores and supermarkets have their own websites. You also can buy what you want online from all over the world, such as from Amazon and eBay. However, as this is a form of importation, it may trigger custom duties and VAT. Some goods are even not allowed to enter Portugal, so before making a purchase you may be unsure about, you should check carefully here: https://smallbusiness.fedex.com/international/country-snapshots/portugal#C04.

Shopping Hours

Typical business hours during the day are 10:00 to 7:00, with a two hour lunch break between 1:00 and 3:00. Some shopping centres are open longer, until midnight. Most shops are open from Monday to Saturday. Large shops may open for seven days a week, and some superstores are open 24/7.




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