There is a culture which exists in Spain which in Britain only receives minor attention in comparison. That is the culture of market shopping. And all around the city in Barcelona there are markets filled with locals doing their shopping.
This is a different setting to how the average British shopper does their weekly shop. Said British shopper normally goes to Tescos, Asda etc. and fills up a large trolley with enough provisions to last them through a nuclear winter! The difference between the two nations is that a lot more Spanish shoppers shop in markets than their British counterparts who prefer supermarkets. This is more so true in the Spanish countryside and market towns.
I believe this trend is reflective of the culture of the two different societies. The majority of British people want to get everything quickly from the same place without the hassle of visiting various locations; this has resulted in a mass use of supermarkets in Britain. Spaniards are known for not always being in a hurry and taking things a little more slowly. This is why the markets perhaps suit them better. They take things at their own pace, walking from market to market.
They will happily stroll from stall to stall collecting various different foodstuffs. From the fresh fish markets to the fruit and vegetable stalls. There are also stands dedicated completely to cheese, which is taken quite seriously in Spain. You also find stalls selling a vast array of delicatessen and butchers selling slabs of meat. It doesn’t stop there as you are still able to pick up selections of herbs and condiments. Eggs are widely available and find themselves sold at many different counters. With the amount of bakeries that are dotted around the city, it is no surprise that bread is also available in markets. And of course, with Barcelona being a coastal city, there are seafood stands galore stocking everything from king prawns to octopus!
Amongst the best markets in the city are the Mercat de la Boqueria off las Ramblas (undoubtedly the most famous of all and where you are likely to find everything that you need), Mercat de la Llibertat (Plaza Llibertat, 27) and Mercat de L’Abacería Central (Travessera de Gràcia, 186), both located in Gracia are two of the best for the more adventurous eater. Don’t forget the Mercat de Santa Caterina (Carrer de Francesc Cambo, 16) in El Born as well.
But back again to the argument of why Spaniards prefer the markets. With these local markets, people have the chance to get to know the people who sell them their food (something that isn’t as easy to do in British supermarkets, some of which having 30 or 40 different tills). This helps build a trust and this trust is highly valued by the Spaniards who will remain loyal to someone who they know is selling a good quality, fresh product.