Shopping in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria has a long commercial tradition thanks to the activity of its strategic port, which was a free port until the accession of Spain to the EU. Through this port, the island has been supplied with the most diverse goods from the respective continents,
including goods that have been difficult to find in other parts of the European continent. In addition, Gran Canaria´s status as a tourist destination has placed the island in a very privileged position from a commercial point of view. Commerce has reached a high level of development on the island, being based mainly on a potential market of almost 4.5 million people, including the resident population, tourists and visitors.
With the introduction of the Euro, those items, which used to be considerably cheaper in Gran Canaria became also more expensive. But as the Canary Islands managed to maintain their status of a free trade zone with lower import tax and VAT rates, despite Spain’s membership in the EU, some consumer goods – like alcohol, tobacco, perfume, jewellery, clothing and electronic goods – can still be bought cheaper at duty free shops in Las Palmas and the south coast resorts.
Yet, be aware that unlike everywhere else in the European Union there are strict limits for goods being exported for personal use to other European Union countries. You are only allowed to bring with you 1 litre of spirits, 2 litres of wine and 200 cigarettes (or 50 cigars).
Popular souvenirs include local handicrafts like baskets made out of banana leaves, pottery, embroidery, felt hats and miniature versions of the famous Canary wooden balconies. For the best quality at reasonable prices look for the outlets of FEDAC ” Federación para la Etnografía y el Desarrollo de la Artesanía Canaria”; in Las Palmas and Playa del Inglés and at the weekly markets taking place in several towns around the island.
The city of Las Palmas is without any doubt Gran Canaria’s largest commercial centre. Here you will find all the major chain and franchise stores, on Spanish and international level. The city’s biggest shopping centres are
Las Arenas (near the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus),
La Ballena (in the upper town;
the traditional Avenida Mesa y Lopéz (near Santa Catalina Park), also known as ‘zona comercial’, where two branches of the famous El Corte Inglés chain are located,
and the Calle Mayor de Triana, in the heart of the old Triana district, with a medley of shops, ranging from tiny fabric stores to old-fashioned tobacconists and international franchise outlets.
El Muelle, at the Muelle Santa Catalina, is the newest shopping mall with a wide range of shops, restaurants, cafés, cinemas and discos.
The shopping centres of Playa del Inglés – of which the best known are probably Yumbo and Kasbah, but the biggest is Cita – are busy seven days a week, but the emphasis here is on price rather than quality. These shopping centers are usually huge buildings, where you can find almost everything – clothes, electronic goods, jewellery, perfumes as well as lots of animated bars, restaurants and clubs. The supermarkets all along the south coast also sell a wide range of local and imported food and drink.
Another possibility are the streetmarkets: