Shopping in Buenos Aires is a popular pastime. The streets are lined with stores for clothing, fabric, leather shops and shoes. There are specialty shops around every corner, and malls in the larger commercial areas, like Galerías Pacifico on Florida Street or the Abasto Shopping Mall on Av. Corrientes. Most stores now accept credit and debit cards as payments, and many encourage the use of a debit card by offering a discount, or ‘descuento’. Keep in mind when shopping, especially in the smaller boutiques, which make up the majority of your shopping options, that there will be two prices listed. The lower price is the one for those customers paying in cash.
If, however, you do decide to pay with a card, the salesperson will ask if you want to pay in ‘pagos’ or ‘cuotas,’ which are a sort of layaway program, where you make four installment payments of the total due, sometimes with additional interest. Be sure to ask, before accepting this option, if there is an additional charge. Many times there will be a special going on, to entice customers, where no additional interest is charged. This is a great option for those budget-weary folks when buying larger household items.
Most stores are open Monday-Saturday, 10 am-9 pm. However, you will tend to notice that a store will close shop early if they don’t have any customers. Most small businesses close on Sundays, and aside from some of the bigger malls and the Microcentro shopping district, don’t expect a lot to be open that day. It’s a good time to venture over to Chinatown in Belgrano (1600 block of Juramento, next to the Belgrano train stop), with its varied goods and hard-to-find imports, and the locals agree — which is why Chinatown is so crowded on Sundays!