Let’s be honest: it’s hard to find a good supermarket in the centre of Saint Petersburg. Outside the centre? Pozhaluysta, huge ones. But not inside. Inside you got cheap super markets. I’m not against cheap supermarkets, I mean, they are great to buy basic things like water when they are close by. But don’t go there looking for fancy fruits. They have a basic stock of essential products. Toilet paper and bananas, like Dmitry Potapenko, Russia’s expert on cheap food likes to call it.
Then there are also the expensive places in the centre. Like for example the Stockmann Supermarket on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Vosstaniya street. For Russian standards, it has a pretty good selection of products ( not as good as in the Netherlands however), but the disadvantage is that it is expensive. Especially wine fruit and vegetables. What I like about the Stockmann store is that it offers prepared food, which you can take home, heat up and eat at home. It’s quite nice, especially if you live close by and you don’t want to spend another evening eating out in a restaurant. Stockmann is also good if you like to buy some fancy alcohol, a good bottle of Vodka as a present for example. I believe they are cheaper here than at the airport, although I should really probably double check that.
So that’s one of the bigger supermarkets. But wait. Probably we should define first what is a supermarket. I guess we should, my bad. I guess and I’m really not at all knowledgeable about the subject that there are several kinds of stores where you can buy your toilet paper and bananas and whatever you may want to buy.
First of all you have the minimarket. What is a minimarket? Well it is small of course. Here is the Russian dictionary version of it:
So what does it say? Let me enlighten you with my translation skills: it is a small store. The main difference with a traditional store is that it is self-service. There’s no woman or man behind the counter picking your things, except for cigarettes.
Often times these minimarkets don’t belong to some chain. They are just one store. Often they pop up in new neighborhoods before the infrastructures has been set up there. I remember when I moved into a new apartment in Saint Petersburg there were all these mini markets around. They had a very poor choice of products, but at the same time they were very expensive. 100 rubles for a 5 liter bottle of water if I remember correctly.
Then as the infrastructure of the neighbourhood grew, some supermarkets opened their doors and what do you think the minimarkets did? Yep, they closed their doors almost immediately.
I actually still wonder whether it was their plan from the very beginning to open up just for a couple of months until the competition appeared or whether they lived in the illusion that in this neighbourhood they wouldn’t be bothered be competition, to begin with.
So the Supermarkets came. They all belong to chains. So they have the advantage of economies of scale, which allows them to charge lower prices and the poor little mini markets didn’t stand a chance. Actually, I don’t give a damn about the minimarkets, I don’t like them. At least not the ones in my rayonchik.
Anyway, supermarkets. Supermarkets there are many in Saint Petersburg. But most of them suck. Really. They do. I don’t just say that, because I am an arrogant prick. Just when you go to the store instead of seeing many things that make your mouth water you think:” Am I supposed to eat this?”
There are a few exceptions, but they are not great either eh, just better than average. So while I do think Saint Petersburg is a great city to visit. I don’t think you should do so because of the supermarkets.
So what do you have in the centre? Many many Dixis. Too many to be honest. Sometimes there are several of them in the same street and it feels like they are a conquering army taking over this city. Even for me, as a Dutchman, the abundance with which they make use of the colour orange is invasive and show no respect for human dignity. It mainly just really cheap their logo. And of course, they have enough money to spend on a nicer logo. Their Russian turnover was 311,23 billion rubles in 2016, that is around 4,16 billion Euro or 4,79 billion USD. But they want to look cheap. With their screaming colour of orange they suggest to you that they are cheap. Which they are.
Another thing with the supermarkets that often times their windows are not transparent! As if inside something is going on that can’t bear the daylight. This is for example the case with the semya (Russian for ‘family’) supermarkets. it just looks very dodgy. Too bad that I’m not allowed to repost their logo here. It’s also not so nice.
Then there are luxury supermarkets. The most famous example of that is Azbuka Vkusa (Азбука Вкуса). Yes, the store has a better inventory than most other supermarkets. But the prices are just ridiculous. They seem to be more active in Moscow than in Saint Petersburg though. In Piter you have other luxury supermarkets with the same concept. Like for example ‘Lend’
Lend is ok-ish. I used to live close to one, so went there quite a lot. They have some quality products that are not very expensive, but you have to be very careful. For example I once almost bought a net of onions there for 600 rubles (around 10 USD)! I was shocked and so was the lady behind the cash register.
Hypermarkets then. I always thought a hypermarket is just a huge supermarket. But, according to wikipedia it is a store which combines being a supermarket and a department store. Anyway, hypermarkets are huge and they are always located outside of the city centre. People go there by car, so there has to be a lot of parking space, which for obvious reasons is not available in the centre.
I don’t own a car myself, so I don’t go to hypermarkets. But I guess that if you do, you could save some kopeyki if you do your shopping there.
When I was living in Moscow, however, I did visit the Auchan quite often, as I lived very close to it. But it was a horrible place. Busy. The long lines would only make it worthwhile to visit the store if you had a lot of groceries to buy.
There are many hypermarkets in the city, to mention a few:
- The above mentioned O’KEY (pretty stupid name I think)
- Lenta has a few (Лента)
- Metro cash & carry (метро кэш энд керри)
- Auchan (ашан)
And many more.
So there is choice enough, but if you are from a western European country you won’t be able to find the same value for many like you can in your own country. Anyway, unless you have a car you will most likely just visit the store that is closed to you anyway. And that’s entirely logical.
The new Land supermarket in the Nevsky Passazh has opened its doors to the public.