Supermarkets in China | My Favorites

Lately a lot of visitors ended up here because of searches in Google for “Walmart Shanghai”. I wrote a very short post about their coming here a couple of days ago. - see my post ‘Walmart Shanghai is coming

I thought I make a list of my “favorite” supermarkets in China.

1. Mom and Pop Shops

In Shanghai these are the shops that make a neighborhood lively. Run on 20 square meters or less, some specialized in all forms of nuts, the next one selling anything you might need one day, from a new water tap to cigarettes. If you ask for it they definitely will also have some phone cards in their drawer.

As the building craze continues here in Shanghai they slowly disappear. Instead huge apartment buildings, made of pure concrete and ready to crumble down in about 5 to 10 years take their place.

New high rises means less shops, less life in the street besides people going and returning from work. If you go to Pudong you can see what the rest of Shanghai may be one day. Huge dormitories and no shops around. There, you have no other choice then get into the car and drive to a supermarket

I try to shop as much as possible in the pop and mom shops. Sure, sometimes it’s harder as there are no price tags and I definitely have paid too much at times.

In a year or two the ones opposite my apartment probably have disappeared though.

2. City Supermarket

Right. One day all pop and mom shops have disappeared so I need other options. Places I actually have been sometimes, driven by the idea it might be convenient to buy a lot cheap stuff at one place. Most of the time it turned out to be the wrong decision. It’s crowded, people fight with their trolleys and it’s not cheaper at all. The one I like a bit is City Supermarket. It is actually more expensive as it aims at expats who crave for their favorite cereals from home. Even in Holland the selection is not that big. The positive thing is that it is organized, queues are very short and they have pretty much all I need

3. Chinese Supermarkets

Service may not be top notch but they are learning. In the city centre they are relatively small but most things you need are there. No Dutch cheese of course but for daily groceries they do just fine. Prices are good too. The only peculiar thing is that at least here in Shanghai most of them don’t have a vegetable section. They have fruit though.

4. Carrefour

They have been the most aggressively expanding foreign supermarket in China. Doing it the French way they even expanded when it was not officially allowed. Making a deal with local governments does wonders here, as they like investment, jobs and some tea money. The selection is good and service not bad. Strange thing in Kunming was that you were not allowed to take your bag inside. Only your purse was allowed.

Wal-Mart China

5. WalMart

Walmart just arrived here in Shanghai so I have no experience yet. In Kunming it was a mixed experience, they had at least three of them. One was very crowded, had small alleys and was dirty. Another was spacious and clean. The third I never went.

The fact that at the exit, after having paid etc., staff still wanted to see your bill and scratch it with their pen was a bit tedious.

6. Lotus Supermarket

I only know one. The one in Pudong. I wrote before about them and this will be the last time. It’s the place where staff carries badges with “I smile 4 U” or something like that while looking grumpy. It takes 30 minutes before you can pay, and this is during the day. I bought slippers, a fruit mixer and shorts. They all broke down after a week. Avoid.

More info about the Supermarket Industry:

Business week, Jan 17th, 2005

Let China’s Retail Wars Begin June 26th, 2002
Carrefour Revamps Business to Follow Local Rule

Economist, Apr 15th 2004
How big can it grow?

Asia Times, Jun 24th, 2005
China’s supermarkets present export opportunity

Supermarkets in China:

Mom-and-Pop Shops - website soon to come
City Supermarket - click here
Carrefour - click here
Walmart - click here
Lotus Supermarket - click here

Possibly Related Posts

5 Responses to “Supermarkets in China | My Favorites”

  1. three4five
    July 29th, 2005 16:19

    here in china i am…

  2. Jessica
    October 21st, 2005 01:35

    In the listings of supermarkets, the best choice is actually missing: METRO. Even though it wasn’t that attractive when I arrived last year, but it has improved so much that I definitely have to recommend it! You can buy without getting bumped in your trolley as they have large aisles. The choice of imported articles covers everything needed and this for much cheaper prices than City Supermarket. The wine section is also very nice. You need a card to enter, which you get easily by bringing Passport and a reference paper from your company including company chop, and that’s it.

  3. Administrator
    October 21st, 2005 02:08

    Thanks Jessica, that’s a nice addition to the list. I hope I soon have a chance to test the Metro Supermarket.

  4. Jo
    May 29th, 2009 04:22

    My favourites are: 1st: Carrefour, 2nd: Metro (everyday are better!! do not seem to be very cozy, but their fresh food and wide range of products, can not be compared with any other)

    For sure the convenience shops! (allways there when you need… whatever!!)

    And my last option, Walmarts: more expensive than walmart’s and metro for the same products, and I’ve already suffered 2 times food intoxication (the first with their prepared food -me and 2 more friends, and the second with bread -me and my colleage-) Never ever I’ll go to walmart’s

  5. Herb
    August 30th, 2012 01:30

    I would love to see a list of all the Supermarket that carries foreign goods, especially the business address.

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