Many leading mercantile firms have their head offices in Buenos Aires and branches or agents in the other large cities. Department stores, retail shops, and specialty shops in Buenos Aires are on a par with similar establishments in most world capitals. The number of supermarkets and large outlets is increasing as consumers are becoming accustomed to such establishments and are seeking the greater convenience and lower costs that these places afford. Industrial equipment and machinery is primarily sold through agents or trade fairs.
A recent economic crisis, including a three-plus year recession, prolonged bank-runs, and default of federal debts, has significantly impacted consumer purchases and investor confidence. As of 2001, high and rising inflation and unemployment rates have slowed domestic trade and investment.
Business hours are generally from 9 AM to 6 PM , Monday through Friday, with a one-hour lunch break. Stores are usually open from 9 AM to 9 PM , Monday–Saturday; banks are generally open on weekdays from 10 AM to 3 PM . Travelers checks are not widely accepted at business establishments. Domestic demand absorbs most of the nation's industrial production.