Shopping in a large and well known European city is not the same as shopping in a big department store back at home so here are a few smart tips on shopping in Florence so that you can have the most enjoyable time:
1. Dress accordingly – when walking the city, you will quickly come to realise that the place is filled with tourists, and as street venders and merchants try to sell you whatever they have on them, make sure you come accross as a customer used to the Florentine way of shopping and not some tourist window shopping for pretty much anything because street venders see tourists as incapable of knowing the real value of things in florence (thanks to the change in currency) you can be sure that as soon as street venders spot you as a tourist that prices will suddenly go up
2. Check out prices from your home country – make sure you check the local going rate of items you are thinking of buying before you head to your destination, that way you will know whether you are getting an actual bargain by buying it abroad
3. Designer Boutiques have the same prices everywhere – if you are thinking of buying that amazing leather cross body bag from Prada, and thinking it has to be cheaper abroad then think again, designer boutiques in Florence and Milan hold the same prices as the boutiques they have in the rest of the world – the only place you might get them at a cheaper price is at the airport in duty free shops
3. Bargain, bargain, bargain – as you are scanning through something to buy on the streets of Florence, bring out your best bargain game, you might be surprised at how much you can save
4. Shop around – if you are planning to purchase something that almost every little boutique in Florence is selling make sure to go to a couple of shops and checking the prices before you commit to one place in particular. This is because prices vary from place to place: for example the more inversely you are to a major tourist area, the more prices will drop
5. Always ask for a receipt – I know it may seem like tedious task but trust me you will be thankful for that receipt when you want to return that particular item, or when you are trying to figure out how much you spent that day, and also because you might end up needing it for a TVA refund
6. Count your change – make sure the shopkeeper gave you back the right amount or even charged you the right amount, you never know
7. Know the opening times – opening hours of stores varies accross countries so make sure you figure out opening hours before you head anywhere essential such as the bank or the post office: large shops in central Florence usually remain open from 10am until 7.30pm with slightly shorter hours during the weekends, while smaller shops close at lunchtime usually between 1pm and 2.30pm-3.30pm (these shops are usually closed on sundays).
8. Beware of counterfeit goods – as you wander the streets of Florence, you are bound to come across street venders selling fake designer bags and sunglasses; these items can be remarkably convincing and the prices don’t hurt either (especially if you bargain), however, buying as much as selling them is against the law and if you get caught, you might face a hefty charge so beware!
9. Know the sales period – if you are on a hunt to save money and would still enjoy splurging on a few items maybe decide to come to Florence during its sales season: Florence has two sales periods, the first one is usually between mid-January and early February and the second one is between mid-July and August
That being said, have an amazing time shopping in Florence!