If you are just landed in Italy, or if you have to spend some months in our Peninsula you could find useful some advice about do the shopping in the right way, saving money and getting the most of it.
Italy is well-known to be a sort of heaven for what concern shopping, especially about clothing and food. But behind most of the shop windows there is an unpleasant clerk.
This is a widespread problem in Italy, sometimes our shops can be very expensive and this is another major issue, but someone could argue that the stuffs are of very high quality, I could even agree, but what I really cannot stand is impoliteness and no-one can say that Italian clerks are polite, because is untrue. It’s something that literally drive me crazy, and in many shops you would find those kind of people getting around.
So if you have a bad experience in an Italian shop just keep in mind that it’s not about you it’s something “normal”.
Let’s talk about shopping, where do you have to go to get yourself a bargain?
1. Take a look at the leaflets (in Italian: “volantini”) of the big malls, they’re everywhere in Italy, but most typically on the sidewalks in front of you, or in your mailbox. They’re very useful if you can buy what they called “prodotti sottocosto” it means goods sold below their cost, in Italy they bound to use that words only if they really paid to get those products more than they are going to sell yo;, there is a law that protect consumers. So you could get really great bargains through this way but you have to read tons of leaflets.
2. If you just need food for everyday you could do your shopping in every discount, the most famous are: Dico, Eurospin and a couple of other on regional basis. And of course Lidl, where if you are European and are used to do the shopping at their store could feel at home. Even though they sell almost the same things everywhere in Europe, that is not completely true, so you could in the end be disappointed that your mutton brain sauce is not sold in Italy.
3. What about all those small shops in High Street or in the narrow streets of ours beautiful towns? Well, you could put it in this way: they’re just a marketing operation, they pretend to sell you the really and only Italian typical products that you cannot find anywhere, but as a matter of fact they sold the same thing of you nearest mall at three times the price.
4. What about the malls then? There are plenty of them and a good chunk of them are the same as everywhere in Europe, there are lots of Auchan, Carrefour, Leclerc and so on, and someone typical Italian like “Coop” a huge chain of malls, where to get yourself the best discount you need to become member of their cooperative; yes, it sounds weird. Despite of most of the other shopping centre they will ask you for 25 Euro to become member. But keep calm, and consider that if you plan to go to do the shopping on weekly basis at one of their store you will get surely more than 25 Euro of discount a year, and before you leave, if you leave, you could go and ask for your money, they will drop off your membership and handle back it.
5. What about The Famous Italian Online Commerce? I have no idea of what you’re talking about! Online commerce is slowly booming in Italy, if you google online commerce in Italy you’ll find thousands of article which say there’s a huge growth in online commerce. But the amount of money is so little (in comparison to other similar countries in Europe) that even a small increase, in percentage seems bigger than it is, so I suppose that we’ll have a market like the British one in two thousand and never. Obviously that has consequences on the market. Few online shops and prices very high. Furthermore many websites do not keep up with their promises and often buyers experience problems, so don’t trust everyone online. How could you recognise a good website? Well you could rely on feedback from other users, but unfortunately they are usually in Italian, in fact they could be useless for you. Hence the best option could prove to be rely on the biggest players in the field: Ebay and Amazon. The Italian website of Ebay is well organised and full of bargains, but be careful because the Italian sellers are usually very impolite, they try to not to answer your question or simply ignored them and often give you misleading replies. And whatsmore keep in mind that if you order from foreigner sellers (British, French, German are the most present on the market) you will save a lot of money! Because their expedition costs are lower than ours. For example if a British man would send me a standard package from London to Italy he would pay less than anyone who would sell the same pack in Italy! It’s cheaper to send a pack from Birmingham to Rome than from Milan to Rome. And as always for the same reason the more competition between foreign sellers make them goods often cheaper than the ones of Italian sellers, even with a weak Euro. Notice that if you bought goods inside the European Union you wouldn’t need any formalities nor taxes on what you purchase. While if you bought something from China or US you’d pay high fares for expedition and VAT at the Italian customs. Amazon.it as well as ebay.it suffers from the same lack of competition, in their defence I could say that they opened just a year ago and that for electronic goods their prices are excellent, being beaten only by those of the malls when they offer below cost discounts. But if you are looking for something else (clothing and everything else you could find on amazon.com) you’d better take a look at amazon.co.uk, their British website offers a huge range of products at very low prices and if you spend 25 £ they’ll send your goods in Italy for free. It’s a fast service too. And you have also the comfort to surf a website written in English. Lately this has become my first choice, because they have plenty of bargains, plenty of products that amazon.it has not and you could get astonishing discount on everything.
That’s all for toady, I hope this guide will be useful for someone.