Rebajas: A Spanish Institution

My grandmother told me a curious story once. On a flight back to Spain after visiting my uncle in Connecticut for Christmas, she sat next to an American woman who had explained that each year she makes the same trip to Spain. She didn’t have family in the country and the Christmas holidays had already ended. So, why? The rebajas.

The sales period, known in Spanish as rebajas, is a time of consumerist frenzy and busy street life that only occurs twice a year: from early January to early March, and from late June to late August. Unlike in the U.S., where you can find sales racks in stores any time of the year, these two windows are your chance to get discounted clothes in Spain.

For young, broke travelers, this period may coincide with a summer trip to Spain and is a great chance to get three-euro shirts from the shops owned by the clothing giant Inditex.

Inditex, whose owner is the richest man in Spain (and one of the ten richest people in the world), is the mother company of well-known franchises like Zara and Massimo Dutti, as well as many stores that haven’t crossed the atlantic yet, like Bershka, Pull&Bear, Oysho, Uterqüe and Stradivarius. But, the rebajas reach every clothing store, including small boutiques—the best places to splurge on a special item as a souvenir of your trip.

rebajas bags are a status symbol

The rebajas are certainly an emblem of Spanish society, and nowhere are they more emblematic than at El Corte Inglés, Spain’s biggest department store. This is your go-to for luxury items, though they also carry cheaper lines and sell many quality articles that are made in Spain. Their special red rebajas bags are a status symbol and a reminder to everyone else to get to the shops before everything’s sold out.

For the best sales experience, set aside half a day for shopping and hit the shops earlier in the morning and during lunchtime, when you’re guaranteed to find less crowds. Forget about going shopping from 5 p.m. onward, unless you want to run into the entire city—instead, go out for ice cream as a reward for all your hard work.

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