The Peso is Uruguay’s currency. Prices are often expressed in U$, which may be mistaken with the US$ (US dollar) sign. The currency rate was about $1 to UYU 30 in January 2016.
Prices for more expensive products and services (usually above USD100) are often stated in US dollars rather than pesos, and US money are surprisingly commonly accepted, especially at fast food restaurants. Many ATMs in Uruguay, at least in Montevideo, can dispense USD as well as UYU. Foreign tourists are often accepted at establishments that take Argentinian pesos or Brazilian reais. If you’re uncertain, verify which currency the prices are in, since all of these currencies utilize the sign “$.”
Smaller businesses typically take just cash and do not accept cards as extensively as they do in North America or Europe (efectivo). If you pay for UYU600 worth of goods with a UYU1000 bill, try to have more or less precise change since even a mid-size supermarket may have trouble handing you change.
Tiny specialty stores, small supermarkets, and small, congested shopping malls nevertheless dominate the retail sector in Uruguay, as they do in many underdeveloped nations. There are no genuine department shops in the nation that come even close to the size of those in New York or Paris. Even the retail malls along Avenida 18 de Julio in downtown Montevideo are groupings of 10-20 smaller shops rather than department stores.
There is just one genuine hypermarket in the nation, Geant (run as a joint venture between local brand Disco and French chain Geant), which is a good replica of hypermarkets abroad (down to the huge parking lot, high ceiling and wide aisles). Uruguay lacks the large box “category killer” shops for which the United States is known (and which have been copied to a lesser extent in Australia and Europe).
Ta-ta is one of the most well-known grocery chains. These tiny shops offer a broad variety of goods, from food and household supplies to clothing and even souvenirs. If you forget anything for your vacation, you’ll most likely find it there. They are usually open seven days a week.
The majority of consumer products are not produced in Uruguay. The majority of the goods in the shops were imported from China, Argentina, or Brazil. Worse, Uruguay imposes hefty import tariffs and a 22 percent value-added tax (IVA) on practically everything. As a result, imported products are priced similarly to those in Australia, Canada, and Europe. On the other side, Uruguayan items, which mostly consist of food and leather goods, may be extremely inexpensive.
Many high-quality brands known to North Americans, such as Dove soap, Colgate toothpaste, Listerine mouthwash, Del Monte canned fruit, and so on, are available in Uruguayan shops. There are other brands with recognizable logos but odd names, such as del Valle, Coca-South Cola’s American juice brand, which has a logo that looks similar to Minute Maid, Coca-North Cola’s American juice brand. Most other developed-world companies, on the other hand, do not consider Uruguay a top priority, thus their goods are scarce or nonexistent here. Locally accessible brands (which, as previously said, are mostly imported from China) are often of low quality. Uruguayan merchants lack the negotiating strength of their North American or European counterparts since the Uruguayan market is so tiny and most Uruguayans are still very poor compared to customers abroad. Chinese manufacturers, in turn, often sell their highest-quality product lines to dominating First World markets while sending their lower-quality product lines to Uruguay and other minor developing nations. Luxury bedding in Uruguay, for example, is made up of 250+ thread count fabrics woven from cotton/polyester mixes, while luxury bedding in the United States and Europe is made up of 700+ thread count textiles woven from Egyptian or pima cotton.
Yerba mate gourds, antiques, wool fabrics, and leather products such as coats, handbags, wallets, and belts are all popular purchases. Although the pricing for textiles and leather items may seem to be excellent deals, bear in mind that local patterns are inferior to those seen abroad. Uruguay is still decades behind other nations in terms of metalworking quality, which is a significant issue given that leather products such as purses and belts include metal components such as clasps and buckles.