There has been a great change over the last ten years as far as shopping is concerned. There is no shortage of classy, well designed shops and plenty of choice regarding genuine brand name products. You can find everything from world famous brands boutiques to quaint little antique shops dotted around the centre of town. The shopping mall concept and hypermarket has also been introduced to the Bulgarian consumer over the last couple of years. Prices compare to the west in some cases a little higher in others a little lower.
For those who have come for shopping on a budget, there are plenty of market areas everywhere in the country for clothes, shoes and other cheap stuff, usually imported from Turkey, China or Greece. Most of those markets are in the open, or they have both open and closed areas. The largest market of this kind is in the capital Sofia – "Ilientsi" Market.
Finding what you want can still be a bit of a hit and miss affair, partially a reflection of the economic climate. Shops do not tend to carry large stock supplies and it is still worth remembering "if you like it – buy it!" as you may well not find it again. Most shops still accept cash only or local debit cards. Some of the international stores will accept credit cards but if not, you can usually find an ATM (cash point) that will give cash advances against credit cards.
Customer service is not consistent in Bulgaria. It can range from the most friendly and attentive shop assistant to a rudely grunting cashier. Now that there is more choice for the consumer, customers should be less prepared to put up with bad service.
Shops in Bulgaria are generally open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. or 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday – Friday. Many shops close at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and most are closed on Sundays with the exception of the larger hypermarkets. Some smaller shops might close for a lunch break. If you are not sure about something always check the possibility for exchange or refunds before buying. Most shops are reluctant to do either of them unless the item is faulty.
Bulgarian clothing sizes are different from European sizes (see table) so again it is best to try before you buy. You will also find that shops tend to stock very small sizes only, anyone of slightly larger than average build will have difficulty finding ready made clothes in their sizes.
WOMEN'S CLOTHING SIZES
MEN'S CLOTHING SIZES