When Frank and I traveled to Panama (2015), our oldest son Brandon asked us to check the prices on a cell phone and tablet for his personal use. It turned out that a couple of the stores we went to the prices seemed really low. After sending him the photos and the specs he told us that they were Chinese knockoffs, and that’s what we suspected but we were not one hundred percent sure since the fakes look (almost) just like the real deal.
Beware of Chinese Knockoffs
You have to be careful because Panama is full of Chinese knockoffs, from electronics to foods. It can be confusing if you’re not sure what to look for because sometimes the fakes look just like the real thing. For those of you, who aren’t sure what Chinese knockoffs are, let us tell you in a nutshell.
Chinese knockoffs are counterfeit items made to look like the real thing and without the consent of the “actual” brand owner. Knockoffs cost far less than the real item, but that’s because they are usually made of poor quality and come with defects. So be wary when shopping for electronics, making sure you are buying the real item manufactured by the real company.
See some pricing of name brand tablets and computers in the video below.
Electronics Stores in Panama
The good news is the established electronic stores will not sell counterfeits. The two biggest electronic stores in Panama are PanaFoto and PriceSmart. We could easily venture to say that PanaFoto is the equivalent to a major electronic store in the U.S, perhaps like Best Buy. Price Smart too, has some great values on electronics but their selection is not as big as PanaFoto.
We picked up a good computer deal at PanaFoto when we were there and brought it back to Ecuador with us and we’re really glad we did; the same computer in Ecuador would have cost twice as much. After three weeks of combing the city and going into all the electronic stores, comparing computer prices and other electronics all over Panama City, here’s what we found out.
We Found Out This
The consumer will pay just a pinch more than in the U.S, unless a computer is on sale and we found that the really great buys were almost always dated computers. For someone who doesn’t need the latest technology, you’ll be able to pick up on some good deals just like in the U.S.
PanaFoto and PriceSmart both have some great cell phone and tablet deals as well. So all in all if you’re going to visit Panama or live there now, we found the two best places to buy what you need in the electronic arena are in these two stores. PanaFoto also sells small and large name brand kitchen appliances and other neat kitchen gadgets and small appliances. Oddly the store did not carry an Ethernet cable or a VGA monitor cable.
If you like Mall shopping, we did notice about three or four smaller electronic stores that carried some great deals on electronics, however their inventory is much smaller than PanaFoto or PriceSmart but it’s worth a look. Albrook Mall is huge though, you might be in there all day trying to find the electronic stores. Use the map at the entrances to the store to make life easier on you.
PriceSmart - https://shop.pricesmart.com/pa/sp/
PanaFoto - http://www.panafoto.com/
Until we write again…
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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!