Latest trends - AltaPlaza
The department stores at Albrook Mall are a cross between what people from North America would consider outlet stores (stores with heavily discounted, out of season merchandise) and the box chain giant known for cheap bargains, Wal-Mart. Albrook is the largest mall in Latin America boasting several food courts, a merry-go-round, a movie theatre, grocery store, a bus terminal, and a metro station for quick and easy access to anywhere in Panama City. The department stores sell everything you can imagine from furniture to toys to clothing to cookware. Devote a few hours to browse through Costo and Titan before moving on with your shopping. The prices are so astonishingly cheap that I often do a double take. A savvy shopper can buy an entire outfit at Albrook for under $10 dollars and still have money leftover to buy other things: Sandals- $2, Blouse- $3, Shorts- $3, Hat- $2.
Mercado de Artesanías
The Mercado Artesanías de 5 de Mayo (Artisan Market) is a great place to buy traditional Panamanian souvenirs and clothing for a reasonable price. The vendors here are less aggressive than those in Casco, providing you with the opportunity to browse and shop for Panama hats, polleras, Kuna mulas, and many of the other items traditionally associated with Panama. What is interesting about the market is that the vendors and artists come from all over Panama, allowing you to explore the diversity of Panama’s ethnicities, regions, and traditions in one little place. Many of the vendors are also the artisans, meaning that you can sometimes ask them to personalize a bag or other souvenir for you if they're not too busy. If you get lost, ask any Panamanian to point you in the right direction across the street from the Cinco de Mayo metro station. Don't get overwhelmed by the vendors at the jam-packed entrance, go inside to browse the rest of the stalls.
Multi Plaza could be any mall in the U.S. with the standard American mall stores like Gap, Zara, and Forever21, as well as the biggest brands in Latin American and Europe. The mall also has a higher end section with stores like Jimmy Choo and Cartier to satisfy your taste for luxury. Muliplaza is also a favorite place to socialize for Panamanians and expats of all ages given its central location in the city,and the availability of wi-fi.
If you’re looking for truly unique shopping experience and don’t mind spending a little extra, SuperMini Diablo Rosso boutique in the Sortis Hotel, a spin-off of the art gallery in Casco Viejo, has a great selection of limited quantity pieces from local artists and artisans. They sell everything from t-shirts to one-of-a kind glassware that are both distinctly Panamanian yet avant garde.
Also on the higher end of the shopping scale is aptly named Soho Mall. This refined space appeals to a more higher -end clientele than both Albrook and MultiPlaza. It boasts luxury staples such as Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Dior, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Prada, and Valentino.
No matter what your price point, it’s important to note that the Panamanians in the city take pride in their appearance and are always quite fashionable. It’s easy to spot a tourist in wrinkled cargo shorts and dirty sneakers amongst a crowd of well-heeled, crisply dressed Panamanians. Take your time shopping in Panama to purchase the things that make you stand out for all the right reasons!