Skip to main content

"However, the government wants this to change and proposals have been put forward to force the autonomous regions to comply."

In 2017 Spain overtook the U.S. to become the second most visited country in the world, just behind France.  And since 2017 the number of international visitors has kept growing, finishing 2019 with an all-time record of 83.5m.  That’s a lot of people wanting to do business in Spain – spending money in the shops for example.

So it has always surprised me that with this huge number of people wandering around looking for ways to spend their money Spain’s retail sector remains firmly stuck in the past as regards opening hours, even in the busiest tourist destinations.  I accept there have been minor modifications in recent years, such as limited Sunday opening in July and August and in the run-up to the Christmas and Easter holidays for department stores and supermarkets in the cities. However, apart from that, nothing has really changed.

Most shops still close between 2 and 5 on weekdays.  As a result, it is not necessary to look at your watch to know what time it is. The sound of the shutters coming down will tell you it is 2pm.  In addition, at the weekend most open only on Saturdays mornings, even at the height of the season.

However, the government wants this to change and the Business Secretary has put forward proposals forcing the autonomous regions to comply.  Fourteen important tourist destinations have been identified on the basis of: i) at least 200,000 inhabitants, ii) at least one million hotel nights per annum or iii) a minimum of 400,000 cruise ship passengers docked per annum.  This last one is interesting.  Málaga is the fastest growing cruise port in the Mediterranean and is well on the way to 1 million passengers docking annually.  However, if you have the misfortune to dock at the weekend you are in for a very dull time indeed with the city centre virtually a ghost town.  All shops and many restaurants are closed.

Other Andalucían cities on the list are Seville, Granada and Córdoba. They must specify those areas with the highest tourist footfall.  Within these zones seven day trading will be permitted.  In addition, opening hours of big stores is extended to 90 hours weekly, up from the current 72.  Other locations that want to benefit from these changes can apply to be designated as tourist destinations.  Countrywide, the individually owned shop with premises less than 300 square metres will be free to set their opening hours and the minimum number of festival days when shops must open is increased to 10 per year.

The hope is that these changes create employment and increase spending.  In general, department stores and supermarkets think these proposals don’t go far enough.  On the other hand, small businesses feel threatened.  What is a fact is that tourists usually have money burning a hole in their pockets and want to buy stuff. Unfortunately, far too often in Spain’s biggest tourist destinations they see shuttered shops in the middle of the day.

Siestas are nice but…

Siesta fans make the point that shops stay open late in the evening but most overseas visitors want their dinner rather than trail around shops at an unfamiliar time.  Going home for a lie down instead of parting a tourist from their money has to stop and it will be interesting to see if these proposals are implemented and how effective they are.  The retail business in Spain may be about to get a bit of a shake up.

About the author

Barbara Wood

Barbara founded The Property Finders in 2003. More than two decades of experience and her in-depth knowledge of the Spanish property market help buyers get the knowledge they need to find the right property for them.

view our socials

tell us what you want and we will find it!

Complete the form below or call us on +44(0)800 622 6745

Or call us via Whatsapp
The 'First name' field is required
The 'Last name' field is required
Please enter a valid Email address

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

© 2022 The Property Finders, International Property Search & Acquisition Services. All intellectual property in the design, images and text of this website are and will remain the property of The Property Finders. Any infringement of our rights will be pursued vigorously.

GDPR 2018 - We guarantee the personal data entered in the contact form will only be used for the purpose of replying to your enquiry and will not be shared with any other company, service or provider

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. Please confirm you are happy to continue.