They have shops, but most are small independent places selling a limited range of stuff like souvenirs, jewellery, etc. Most of the space in the tourist zone shopping centres is dedicated to bars, cafes, and restaurants.
If you're wondering where all the real Gran Canaria shops are, you've found the right place: Gran Canaria Info's complete guide to clothes shopping spots all over Gran Canaria.
Since most Gran Canaria shoppers stay in the south of the island, let's start there.
Clothes shopping in south Gran Canaria
Within 10 years, south Gran Canaria will have big malls full of fashion stores: There's a huge one planned at Meloneras and two at Puerto Rico. However, for now, the area's fashion highlights are spread out in different resorts and centres.
The ever-reliable Fundgrube chain (a quality local Canary Islands store). It sells accessories, jewellery and shoes at decent prices. It has stores all over south Gran Canaria: Just look out for the yellow elephant.
Desigual shops and authorised dealers are mushrooming across Gran Canaria and there's now one in Puerto de Mogán. In fact, there's one in almost every resort and even in some large hotel receptions. Find your nearest one with this clever map.
A local shop with a pile them high and sell them cheap attitude, Desnudos is in Playa del Ingles on Avenida Galdar. It's the place to go if you've forgotten to pack enough shorts or lost your pants (hey, it happens) on a big night out.
South Gran Canaria shopping centres with shops
The best place for fashion shopping in south Gran Canaria is the upmarket Meloneras area of Maspalomas resort. It actually has two shopping centres with proper shops; both in the first section of the coastal boulevard that starts at the lighthouse and heads west towards Meloneras beach. Prices and stock are pitched at people staying in the posh hotels along the Meloneras seafront.
The first is the Boulevard El Faro which is actually an outdoor shopping centre just behind the Maximillians cafe. The clothes shops here are pretty high-end (think Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Armani, etc).
A bit further west is the large Varadero centre. This has a good mix of shops but no fashion stores of note.
The only other shopping centres in south Gran Canaria with real shops are the Marea in Arguineguín (Springfield, Encuentro and a Zara for kids), and the Tablero shopping centre in Tablero has a Zara, Timberland, Punto Roma, Base sports shop, and a Burger King. See the Tablero's full store list.
Clothes shopping in east Gran Canaria
For proper clothes shopping (for now) in Gran Canaria, you have to leave the resort areas and head north. But you don't have to go all the way to Las Palmas.
The first worthwhile stop is the Atlantico Centre in Vecindario. It's an indoor mall that caters to locals and has a good range of shops such as Desigual, Bershka, Cortefiel, Encuentro, Jack Jones, Mango and Zara. See the full Atlantico store list. Prices here are local and you'll find some great bargains if you coincide with the sales.
The next worthwhile stop up the east coast is Las Terrazas outdoor mall just north of Telde. It's a pleasant shopping centre and even has the island's only KFC.
Las Terrazas is famous as a bargain centre and lots of shops have their main outlet store here. Here's the full store list.
Just north of Las Terrazas is the El Mirador centre. Now, the two pretend to be in the same place but they are a short drive (or a long walk by the motorway) away from each other.
The highlight of El Mirador is its huge Primark but it also has a decent range of other clothes shops.
Clothes shopping in Las Palmas
Gran Canaria's capital city has an excellent range of fashion stores, boutiques and shopping centres. If you really want to spend a proper day shopping, then you have to visit the capital.
Triana shopping district
As you come into the city from the south the first big shopping district is Triana just over the road from old town Vegueta. It's one of Spain's top outdoor shopping destinations and is rather pretty to boot with its elegant Modernist facades.
Triana is easy to get to as all the buses from the resorts stop at San Telmo bus station. Just walk up the stairs and walk through the square. Triana starts on your left (aim for the big spiral sculpture). The main Calle Mayor has big fashion stores from brands like H&M, Zara, Mango, Desigual, etc.
However, it's also worth walking up the cobbled side streets as Triana is full of smaller shops and boutiques (as well as dozens of places to eat and drink).
Mesa y Lopez & El Corte Inglés
Mesa y Lopez isn't quite the shopping mecca it used to be but it has a good selection of shops and a vast El Corte Inglés department store. This Spanish institution sells almost everything and the Mesa y Lopez store is six storey's high on both sides of the street. For clothes, you want the north side of the street. The ground floor is packed with accessories, jewellery, cosmetics and perfume and the clothes are on the floors above. Lots of brand names have their corner inside El Corte Inglés and it's well worth a wander if you're looking for quality garments.
There's a large Desnudos bargain shop one block north of El Corte Inglés.
Las Palmas shopping centres
The main indoor shopping centre in Las Palmas is Las Arenas at the southern tip of Las Canteras beach. It has large Mango, Zara, Primark, H&M and C&A stores and plenty of other brand names as well. See the full Las Arenas store list here.
Smaller, but conveniently located just by Santa Catalina bus station, is El Muelle shopping centre. It was built to cater to cruise ship passengers but hasn't ever quite made it as a fashion shopping destination. However, the huge Las Palmas aquarium is set to open at the end of 2017 and we expect El Muelle to improve fast to cater to all the visitors coming to look at the fish. Check the El Muelle store list here.
As for other Las Palmas shopping centres, Siete Palmas, located in the upmarket residential area of the same name, has a decent range of shops but it is harder to reach that Las Arenas or Triana.
More on shopping in Las Palmas.
Gran Canaria has two main sales periods: The big one is the Christmas sales but the dates are different from the rest of Europe. Christmas in Spain goes on until the Three Kings (Reyes) bring presents on January 6th. So, the Christmas sales don't start until January 7th. They go on for the whole of January and a good chunk of February.
The second big sales period is the summer sales which start officially on July 1st and last until the end of August.