If you really want to get to know a country, spend some time wandering its supermarkets. In Argentina, the big ones are Coto, Disco, Jumbo, and French-owned Carrefour. If you’re looking for variety, the massive Jumbo outlet in Buenos Aires’ Palermo (Bullrich 345, Buenos Aires) has every product under the sun and has been nicknamed the ‘international supermarket’ for its range of imported goods, although you will pay a premium for them.
Argentina, like most of South America, also loves its open-air street markets and boutique shops. Many of them can be found in the huge arcade that is Calle Florida in Buenos Aries. You’ll find hundreds of shops that specialize in leather goods and furs. If you’re looking for something glitzy with a designer label, give Avenida Alvear a try which is where Louis Vuitton and Georgio Armani reside.
There is a great variety of fashion and leather goods to be found in most commercial areas and high quality jackets, boots and shoes are sold throughout the country at very agreeable prices. However, Buenos Aires has a relatively mild climate, so truly cold-weather clothes are often hard to come by. Electronics are not cheap either, as they are subject to hefty import fees. The price of music, books, and movies can be a good deal if the volatile exchange rates are in your favor.
Unlike other parts of South America, credit card machines do not support PINs. So, if you have a PIN-enabled card in your home country, do not expect to use it in Argentina. Instead, you will be asked for your signature, which is standard practice.
Buenos Aries has some magnificent shopping areas; Abasto, Village Recolleta, and Alta Palermo to name a few, but if you want a traditional Argentinean market head to San Telmo. Known for its bohemian charm, San Telmo is a neighborhood of arts, antiques and tango. It is a nice area to walk around any day of the week, but Sundays are by far the best times to visit when people of all nationalities flock to Plaza Dorrego for their weekly antiques fair, Feria de San Telmo.
Argentina is a great place to buy leather goods. Clothing and accessories made from various types of cow, suede, sheep, goat, antelope, stag, and calf can be purchased at very reasonable prices in all commercial areas. One particular type of leather is carpincho, which comes from a large rodent native only to South America. Its hides have become very popular with foreign buyers for its softness, attractive reddish color and irregular grain.