Best areas to shop - Via Calimala or Via del Corso
You will notice almost immediately that there is no shortage of high-end luxury leather products, touristy trinkets and beautiful handmade souvenirs lining the streets of Florence. If, however, you want to shop somewhere with a greater range of budgets and be surrounded by locals going about their everyday life, you could try the area around Via Calimala or Via del Corso that comes down from Piazza Repubblica. Here you will still find lots of boutique shops lining the streets, but you will also find many international brand names and more department-like stores in these areas. These types of shops can be difficult to find sometimes as the exterior does not always carry the usual markers of big-name brands.
If you want to dress like a local but are not willing to brave the shiny interiors of Gucci and Prada stores, you could try somewhere like Melrose Vintage. This is a global franchise and if you have a knack for bargaining you can pick up styles from a few seasons ago at second-hand prices. You could also try less popular brands like OVS and Upim if you need clothing basics at slightly cheaper prices than the well-known international brands.
If you are not attached to authentic brands, you could try your luck at the 'Chinese stores' around the city. These offer many imports at much cheaper prices, so they are a good choice if you want the look without the price tags. These stores can be difficult to find, so make sure you are looking out for small stores with lots of mannequins and a cluttering of accessories.
If you are wanting to save money but still want to buy apparel, markets are probably your first port of call. There are the major tourist markets like San Lorenzo, and there is also places like Sant Ambrogio, Piazza Ciompi, and Santo Spirito that all offer huge ranges of clothes and trinkets at the cheapest prices. It is a good idea to look around before you buy the first thing you see as often you will find exactly the same wares on another stall for a different price. Although these markets are not off the beaten track, they will probably offer the best prices if you are looking to save money while shopping in Florence.
Local food shopping
If you are across the river from the historic centre, you can go and check out the Mercato Centrale which offers up a large range of local produce and places to eat, alongside local souvenirs. This market still has tourists, but it is also frequented by locals as well.
If you want an oh-so-Italian mid-afternoon wine while you explore the centre of the city, try somewhere like Fiaschetteria Nuvoli. This is a wine cellar located near Duomo and is a hotspot for locals. If you are wanting a lot of food on a budget you should look for restaurants that do 'aperitivo' type dining and take advantage of the cheap buffets from around 7pm to 9pm - Simply buy your drink and then eat what you like. There are many of these types of restaurants around and they are a popular way to dine, but make sure you get there early to make sure you get a seat.
Go to historical markets
Florence locals shop everywhere but if you are really keen for traditional shopping there are only a few of the historical markets left, such as the “Grande Mercato Centrale” in San Lorenzo, or the ‘mercato’ in Sant’Ambrogio.
If you like teas, there’s one little shop in Piazza Ghiberti called “La Via del Tè”: it’s an old store run by a man called “Merlino” (Merlin, just like the wizard) which receives the herbs directly from the Far East.