Stockholm - How to shop
Traditionally in January and in August you can find sales in most of the shops. Today sales appear at other times of the year simply to encourage buyers to spend more money. In the sales prices are really cut down and the goods are not old or second quality so it is really worth going around the various shops prior to the sale period and decide on what you are interested in so you know exactly where to go when the sale starts. Special sales are advertised in newspapers or leaflets sent home to you.
Food prices are high in Stockholm but you should look out for special offers that occur regularly and offer substantially lower prices. This applies particularly to meat that is much cheaper if bought by 3 kg. Announcements on weekly savings are normally posted by mail or itemized in leaflets available on entry to the store, and in newspapers sent directly to your home
Forms of payment
You can pay with cash or credit card. Checks are not used at all as a form of payment over the counter. If you use your credit card you will have to show your ID card for the payment to be accepted, unless it is a 'direct debit' outlet. Many stores have their own store cards with very favorable interest rates. You may choose to use the store card not as a credit card but simply for recording the amount you spend each time and receive back at the end of the year a small percentage of the total spent.
Supermarkets and food shops
The main supermarkets chains are Ica, Konsum, Vivo and Rimi. These are the places where you normally shop for your food. Apart from European ingredients you can find ingredients for the preparation of more "ethnic" food from all over the world. For example, Thai food has become popular so most stores now have a reasonable selection of ingredients like coconut milk, fresh Thai basil and lemon grass. If you cannot find what you need in the normal store you can always go to the specialized shops.
In the same supermarket you can also buy fruits and vegetables. The choice is sometimes limited. If you want to buy good quality fresh fruits and vegetables the best places to go are the outdoor markets like the one in Hötorget in the city centre.
Don't forget that you pay for the bags you use for your grocery and you have to pack them yourself. If you want home delivery, most stores can help you for a fee. NK department store offers internet shopping for groceries including home delivery.
Food items are quite expensive since they are taxed at 25%. The only way to save on your grocery is to buy what is on offer at the time since the price varies considerably. Items on offer are advertised in the local paper or directly on the shop windows and delivered free of charge at your place.
At your supermarket you can buy only the mildest beer with 2.8% or 3.5% alcohol but you cannot buy stronger beer or spirits. Alcohol may be bought only from the state monopoly shops (called Systembolaget). There are over 300 such outlets throughout the country and sales can be made only to persons aged 20 and over. Beer is graded according to alcoholic content: grade III (export) being the strongest, grade II (lager) and grade I (pilsner) the mildest. Local brands include Pripps, Falcon and Spendrups. There is a wide choice of wines available from all over the world.
If you are looking for antiques you should go to Odengatan, Upplandsgatan and Roslagsgatan. The stores are of varying quality. On the high end of the market, go to Arsenalsgatan where the auction houses and upscale antique stores are located.
Biblioteksgatan and Hamngatan are the high fashion streets. Drottningsgatan is partly a pedestrian only shopping street. You will also find street vendors selling electronic equipment or hair accessories here.
Gamla Stan (Old Town) is the place to find typically Swedish arts, jewelry and crafts. Many galleries and little antique shops can he found here.
Birger Jarlsgatan between Sturegatan and Runebergsgatan has Swedish design stores and furniture. You can also find many "house and home" stores at Grev Turegatan, Sibyllegatan, Karlavagen and Nybrogatan. Hornsgatan has a number of child supply stores.
Looking for herbs, spices and exotic vegetables and fruits? Go to Rinkeby and Tensta Centrum markets or go to Hötorgshallen, Östermalmshallen and Söderhallen. Outside these indoor markets there are usually street vendors selling fruits and vegetables. Often you can also find leather and flowers here.
Hörnsgatspuckeln is the place to go for ceramics and glass works. Sturegatan, Karlavagen, Strandvagen and Nybrogatan are four of the streets in Östermalm where you can find art galleries. You can also find many galleries in the Old Town.
If you are looking for old CDs/LPs and cassette tapes go to the area around St. Eriksplan, here you will find almost twenty stores for collectors.
The largest fleamarket in Northern Europe can be found in Skärholmen Centrum, which can be reached by subway. A variety of things are for sale here by professional vendors, but also garage sales by private persons renting a stall for the weekend. It is open every day.
There are three main department stores, NK, Åhlens and PUB, where you can find all you need for your family and your home.
Nordiska Kompaniet (NK) is located in Hamngatan, also at Farsta and Täby. Most of the sales personnel speak English. The shipping department will ship purchases to other countries -MOMS (sales tax) is deducted on such items. There is a service charge for mailing and shipping.
Åhlens is in Drottninggatan and Klarabergsgatan. Åhlens lower floors and food department are open in the evenings and on Sundays.
PUB (Paul U. Bergstrom) is located at Hötorget. PUB does not have a food department but everything you need for the house.