If you’re thinking about coming to Shanghai for long visit, or have the opportunity to take an expat assignment here and are doing a bit of research on what it would be like to live here, you should know that there are a lot of good options for buying groceries that help to make life here quite enjoyable. There are tons of places to eat out, but let’s face it… there’s only so much of that a person can do before you’ll be longing for a pot, a pan, and a bag full of groceries. There are a number of grocery store chains that are more comfortable (familiar) to Laowai. At some, like the first one listed below, you’ll find many locals shopping. At others – well, the rest of the stores in the list – prices are higher due to the products they sell.
Carrefour (a grocery store and then some)
Carrefour is the biggest of the chains where most Laowai shop. It’s is a French company and was an early mover into Shanghai so they are all over the place. It’s also probably the best of the supermarkets/grocery-type stores that you’re likely to shop at. Every Carrefour I’ve ever been too has been in a mini shopping mall of sorts, with Western fast food chains (like Pizza Hut, McDonalds or Burger King, KFC, Subway….) and a number of good Chinese chain restaurants. There’s also usually a food court called Food Republic, which has a variety of places to buy a good meal. Carrefour also sells phones, small appliances, dishes, and basic housewares, so if you’re new in town it’s a good first place to visit to stock up on a bunch of things that you’ll need.
Check out some photos taken at Carrefour.
Pines has imported foods from around the world. I’ve also heard it said that the brand of milk they sell is the best you can buy in Shanghai, and is the same that is used by Starbucks Coffee. They do have the best prices I’ve found on imported cereals, and a huge selection of snack foods (chips, Doritos, popcorn…). There are currently two locations (I believe) in Shanghai, one in Pudong, the other in Puxi.
There are a number of Olé locations in Shanghai. They tend to be at higher end malls like Kerry Parkside in Pudong, and the products they sell are almost entirely imported. Prices are high and selection is limited, but when you need a taste from home, it’s a good bet you’ll find something to satisfy you here.
A lot like Ole, City Shop focuses on imports and offers high quality foods at high prices.
I’ll be writing soon specifically about where to buy fresh produce and meat, so check back soon for that.