Madrid and Barcelona are the primary commercial hubs for distribution of goods throughout the country. Spain has no free ports, but free-zone privileges are granted at Barcelona, Bilbao, Cádiz, Vigo, and the Canary Islands. There are bonded warehouses at the larger ports. The government has established a market distribution program to regulate the flow of goods to and from the producing and consuming areas. Since 1972, wholesale market networks have been established in cities with more than 150,000 inhabitants. The National Consumption Institute promotes consumer cooperatives and credit unions.
A wide variety of shops are available in Spain, from small specialty boutiques to large department stores, shopping centers, and outlet stores. Franchises are become more popular throughout the country. As of 2002, there were about 940 franchise firms represented in the country, with national companies holding ownership of about 70% of them. Direct marketing and sales, particularly through mail order and television sales, are also gaining in popularity. A 16% value-added tax applies to most goods and services. This rate is reduced for some products, such as food, books, and medical supplies. Advertising is largely through newspapers, magazines, radio, and motion picture theaters.
Usual business hours are from 9 AM to 6 PM , Monday through Friday. Banks are open from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM , Monday through Friday, and to 1 PM on Saturday. Stores are often open from 10 AM to 8 PM , Monday through Saturday.