While shopping in Prague isn't quite on a par with some other top cities in Europe, many hypermarkets and shopping malls have popped up in recent years, offering an ever-wider selection of products as the memory of communism fades. The growing competition has led to better prices for customers, making shopping in Prague refreshingly budget-friendly by European standards. The main shopping area in Prague extends from Wenceslas Square, past Na Prikope and into Republic Square. The Parizska area has some international fashion brand boutiques, while Mala Strana and the Old Town Square are home to small shops and art galleries. The Old Town Square also has a permanent market selling arts, crafts and souvenirs. Much of what you'll find on the thoroughfare between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square is mass-produced and overpriced, though the souvenir shopping along this stretch is fun. There are several shopping malls in Prague, including the upscale Palladium in the centre of the city; Metropole Zlicin, which has cinemas and fast-food eateries near the bus station; and the huge OC Novy Smichov. Local products include crystal ware and accessories, puppets, hand-painted eggs, wooden toys, folk art and memorabilia from the communist era (army surplus hats, knives and badges). Many artists sell pen-and-ink drawings on the street, and of course visitors find many Prague souvenirs bearing the face of native son and renowned author, Franz Kafka. Locally-mined Czech garnets are also popular, but make sure to get a certificate of authenticity as it can be hard to identify fakes. Most shops are open from 9am to 7pm, with some large supermarkets staying open till 10pm or even staying open 24 hours a day. Most shops in the city centre and tourist destinations are open on weekends. Some sales tax refunds are available to non-EU citizens.
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