Bolivia - Domestic trade
La Paz is the chief marketing center. Oruro is second to La Paz as a market for imported goods and is the main distributing center for mining supplies. Santa Cruz is also quickly becoming an important market center for imported goods. Cochabamba distributes its agricultural production to La Paz and the mining districts. Though most retail is accomplished through small shops and street vendors, there are a number of large import houses and wholesalers in the major cities. In more rural areas, most buying and selling is carried on at weekly markets and village fairs and barter may still be common. Advertising has become highly developed over the past few years, with television being the most used medium, followed by newspapers and radio. There are at least 12 major market research firms active in the country.
In the past decade, the government has sponsored several programs of capitalization/privatization for public sector enterprises. Under these programs, investors receive 50% of the companies' shares and management control but are required to invest directly into the company for a number of years. However, many of these companies are controlled by foreign investors, which has made some capitalization plans nationally unpopular. In 2000, violent protests over plans to capitalize the water company of Cochabamba forced the government to cancel an arrangement with foreign investors and keep the utility under public control.
Regular retail store hours are weekdays, 9 AM to noon and 2:30 to 6:30 PM . Business hours differ somewhat by city. In La Paz and Cochabamba, hours are 9 AM to NOON and 2:30 PM to 6:30 or 7 PM . In Santa Cruz, hours are generally from 7 or 8 AM to 4:30 PM with a two-hour lunch break around the middle of the workday. Bank hours are 9 AM to noon and 2 to 4:30 PM .