Differences and Tips
At some point during a trip to Spain, most people find themselves in a supermarket, even if it’s only to avoid paying convenience store prices for bottled water.
There are a few cultural differences that you should be aware of though.
One of the main differences is that in the UK we’re used to going into the supermarket with bags of previously bought shopping. If you try to do this in Spain in a larger store, then the chances are that you’ll be pointed back towards the entrance.
Don’t worry, you’re not being thrown out – the assistant will be trying to point you towards the lockers which all major supermarkets will have by the entrance.
These lockers are specifically for you to leave any large bags in while you shop, and once you get used to them they are easy to remember.
They will look something like this –
They generally come in various sizes, and even the smaller ones can hold quite a lot.
All you have to do to use them is insert a 50 cent or 1 euro coin in the slot – either will do – and lock the door, remembering to take the key with you.
The space below the lockers is reserved for safe storage of shopping trolleys, which takes me nicely onto one of the other main differences.
In Spain, everyone uses shopping trolleys, regardless of age, mobility or gender; they are simply seen as a practical way of carrying a lot of shopping home.
It’s always interesting to see the different foods which shops in other countries stock, as this is the food which ordinary people eat at home. There are the same counters as at home, but the types of bread and the meat cuts are different.
Ready meals don’t have the same dominance as they do in UK supermarkets; those that you will find tend to be either imported or own brand copies of the most popular ones. Either way there isn’t a great deal of choice.
You also won’t find an in-store pharmacy, or any medications at all, as by law these have to be bought at a pharmacy in Spain. Luckily there are pharmacies all over the place and they open really good hours, even at weekends.
Lastly, if you want to pay by card then you may be asked for ID – I usually carry my driving license to use for things like that.