Money & Shopping
The local currency is the Bajan dollar, but US dollars are accepted in almost all shops and restaurants. The exchange rate is fixed at 2 Bajan dollars to the US dollar. Keep in mind that exchangers in hotels may insist on taking an additional percentage of the exchange (typically 5%).
Many "duty free" shops cater to visitors. Bridgetown's main street hosts numerous jewellers, e.g., Colombian Emeralds and Diamonds International. Cave Shepherd department store offers a wide range of mercantile, while Harrison's offers premium gifts, leathers and cosmetics. The island also has fairly large super-markets outside Bridgetown. Smaller stores offer virtually everything a visitor or resident might need. A small mall at the harbor also offers decent prices and selection (for rum and UK liquors), but goods produced in Barbados may be slightly more expensive there than elsewhere on the island.
Barbados has a well-deserved reputation for producing excellent rum, e.g., Mount Gay. Rum distilleries are usually open for tours, and typically offer samples and product for sale at prices often equal to the best found anywhere else. (See also "Drink" below)
Barbados has a great variety of street vendors. Haggle aggressively. Don't stop until you are at about a third of the original price.
The fine arts flourish in Barbados and many galleries and studios have shows on all year round which change every few weeks. Details of monthly arts happenings may be viewed.[www]
Stores selling to visitors can honestly claim they offer duty free pricing. They in fact pay duty on imported goods before offering them for sale. But as they sell anything to you as a visitor, they will ask you to sign a form that allows them to get a refund of the duty paid. The government is working on a law that allows vendors to obtain goods that are intended for visitors without paying duty.
Business hours: In times past, most everything shut down on weekends, and visitors had to plan ahead especially if self-catering. This is no longer the case. Clothing and gift stores open until 4PM or so (Sheraton Mall shops until 9PM) on Saturdays; very few are open on Sunday. Many supermarkets island-wide are open on Saturday and Sunday.
On bank holidays (such as Christmas, New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday), most if not all stores and banks and business houses will be closed. But stores attached to gas stations will have limited availability of basic items, and shops at the deep water harbour will be open if cruise ships are visiting. There are a few small family run groceries across the island that will open on bank holidays (or have a side door open) to serve their community.