Shopping in Spanish-speaking Countries
Shopping for souvenirs or foreign goods is one of the important items of any tourist’s “Don’t miss” list. Talking to store clerks and especially bargaining can be intimidating, but you only need a few easy phrases to purchase the best gifts for your loved ones.
Let’s start with the basics:
Always have change! Even if you manage to have the smoothest conversation, your purchase may end in a fiasco, since places that can’t boast of a big volume of shoppers often do not have enough change.
As soon as you make sure you have it, you can start shopping.
Talking about prices
There are numerous ways of asking how much an item costs. E.g.:
¿Cuánto cuesta? (pronounced KWAHN-toh KWEHS-tah)
¿Cuánto vale? (pronounced KWAHN-toh BAH-leh)
¿A cuánto está? (pronounced ah KWAHN-toh ess-TAH)
There is a solid chance that you can purchase the goods at a much lower price than you see on the price tag, this is why it is always worth asking:
¿Cuál es el precio más bajo que me puedes dar?, which translates as “What’s the lowest price you can give me?”
Due to their inborn openheartedness, of Spanish-speaking people often address others informally even if they are not your acquaintances yet. Should you do the same when talking to salespeople? To be on the safe side, choose the polite formal (usted) grammar and phrases when interacting with vendors. And mind your Pleases and Thank Yous, of course!
Quisiera uno de esos, por favor - I would like one of those, please.
Muchas gracias, señor/señora - Thank you very much, sir/ma’am.
Tip: if the vendor is super elderly, use doña instead of señora to show even greater respect.
However, don’t be afraid to use informal grammar. In fact, it will help you appear more local. Here are the basic informal phrases you can use while shopping:
¿Me pasas eso, por favor? - Can you pass me that, please?
Dame uno, por favor - Give me one, please
If the vendor offers you to choose from several options, use one of the following phrases depending on the context (and your preferences):
Quiero este - I want this
Quiero ese - I want that
Este no me gusta tanto - I don’t like this one much
¡Me encanta este(a)! - I love this one!
Me gustan aquellos de allá -I like those over there
Dealing with Bad Luck
Unfortunately, the shop or vendor may have run out of the thing you want to buy, so you are likely to hear:
Se acabó – It’s out of stock
Ya no tenemos – We do not have it any more.
This is it! Can you believe it? These few phrases accompanied with gestures (pointing fingers mostly) will enable you to buy every souvenir you need! However, if you prefer to be more specific about your wishes and choices, stay with me and I will tell you the Spanish word for everything you might want to buy!
P.S. I’ll also give you a few tips on bargaining like a boss, you definitely want to know this!