The principal distribution centers include Puerto Cortes and San Pedro Sula, the latter of which is the commercial and industrial capital on the nation. Tegucigalpa is a leading center of retail trade. In major cities, shops are comparable to those in Central American towns. In the countryside, small markets and stores supply staple needs. As of 2002, there were about 55 foreign franchise companies present in the country. That number is expected to rise rapidly as local business managers become interested in franchise agreements. Foreign investment is encouraged, but in certain industries, the law requires that majority ownership be by Hondurans. The government maintains a certain degree of price management and controls over some items, including coffee, medicine, gasoline, milk, and sugar. A 12% sales tax applies to many goods and services, with the exception of staple food items and certain health and educational expenses.
Business hours are generally from 8 AM to noon and 1:30 or 2 to 5 or 6 PM on weekdays and 8 to 11 AM on Saturdays. Banks in Tegucigalpa are open from 9 AM to 3 PM , Monday through Friday.