What do Chinese supermarkets look like


At first glance, Chinese supermarkets hardly differ from ours. But if you take your time and go shopping, you quickly notice that the differences are mainly in the details.

Hand in bags

At the entrance you will be asked not to take any bags you may have brought into the market. A number of lockers are usually available for this purpose, which spit out a coupon with a barcode at the push of a button. You then take this coupon with you in order to open your locker again later by scanning the barcode. In my opinion, very pleasant, as you always have the opportunity to lock away what you have brought with you and save yourself discussions at the cash desk. Locking the bag is also much faster and more pleasant than running to the information desk all the time and asking if you can hand in your bag for a moment.


Next, you are usually overwhelmed by the offers in the first few meters of the market. Often stacked towering high and equipped with countless price labels, signs and disruptors in the shape of a star, products are offered here at prices that are not that much cheaper. Yes, in China, quoting 100g prices is not yet mandatory and so the manufacturers shamelessly exploit the naivete of many customers. Many products come in huge or elaborately designed packs to suggest a lot of content, but if you look at the contents, you quickly realize that buying two smaller packs is usually cheaper. But there are still good offers here and there and, above all, it seems to be very trendy in China to stick some household items to the products. Buy two bags of detergent and get this glass bowl as a gift. The manufacturers sometimes stick everything possible to the products in order to make them more attractively priced and to penetrate the market. This is often noticeable with yogurt. The most popular accessory products here are bowls, glasses, spoons, plastic sieves, etc. In general, the topic of offers in China seems to be much more pronounced and more topical than in Germany. Almost every product has at least one special version in a larger pack or sometimes simply glued together with another or the same product. Two for the price of one, so to speak. It is also noticeable that at the weekend, every island on offer usually has an extra saleswoman with them, who then loudly screams the advantages of the product and, above all, the price across the supermarket using a microphone. And that for every island, which are right next to each other, which of course culminates in a brilliant cacophony and anything but invites you to linger.


If you keep walking, the first surprise is the high number of staff. You can tell at every corner that labor is very, very cheap in China, but it is more than noticeable in shops and supermarkets in particular. While it is hard to find one or two lost employees in the huge Kaufland Mannheim, who have no time for you anyway because they are sorting or folding cardboard boxes, in China you have at least 2 (!) Departments in each (!) Department. ) Employee. They then help with questions about products, try to find the best offer for you and, out of sheer boredom, sort products at some point. The employees look particularly funny when they hang price tags on the ceilings, because helmets are apparently compulsory on ladders in China. As pleasant as it is to have a contact person on hand at all times, unfortunately it can sometimes be a bit annoying if you just want to look around the chips and are constantly babbled on with offers or get help with the selection.


The deeper you go into the supermarket, you realize that the Chinese hardly lack choice. There are at least 20 different brands of many products to choose from and the shelves are always full. Here you can quickly see the preferences of the Chinese and cultural differences. While chocolate is in short supply and quite expensive, it takes 2 long shelf islands just to present all types of oil. The Chinese cook really very oily and you notice that most in the supermarket. While in Germany a 1 liter bottle of oil is the standard and everything above is the exception, the standard in China seems to be 5 liter bottles. Of course, a 0.5 liter bottle is also often stuck on here as a special treat. The selection of different types of oil leaves nothing to be desired, there is really everything in oil, from different mixed oils to sesame oil to oil from strange plants, which I have never heard of in my life. The shelf for the soy sauce looks similar, of course. I find the weighting of toothpaste in Chinese supermarkets a bit unusual. The Chinese seem to really, really like brushing their teeth and so there is usually an incredible number and selection of different toothpastes. Otherwise there are of course products with little to no selection. While yoghurt is really taking off in China at the moment, you are unfortunately looking for cheese in vain. Even if a supermarket (Walmart for example) has cheese, there are usually only 3 different ones to choose from and of course at exorbitant prices. You won't find canned vegetables or generally canned food here either. German beer is usually in abundance, but this topic almost deserves its own blog post.

Fresh department

One floor down there is the fresh department, in which we of course first notice the aquariums for the fish. In China, around 80% of all fish are sold alive and swim happily in the supermarket all the time. Furthermore, there is of course shrimp and mussels to choose from, but you don't have to do without turtles and frogs in China either. The meat counter has an unusually "open" design. Here everything is (on ice) right in front of you and everyone can happily cough and / or spit on it. But since the Chinese always cook everything pretty, pretty hot, nobody here probably worries about that. The same applies to the chickens, which are arranged on a separate bed of ice, nicely sorted by wings, legs, breasts and even whole chickens. Interestingly, they also have completely black chickens here. What is different or special about it, I still have to discuss or subject a taste test. There are no other surprises when it comes to vegetables and the fruit looks like ours at first glance. It is only noticeable that there are of course a lot more exotic fruits and the cherry tomatoes in China are mostly with the fruit. In general, cherry tomatoes are usually served with fruit in China.

Bulk food

Another curiosity stands out right next to the fruit. So-called “bulk food”, which can best be translated as mass-produced goods. There are mountains of grains, semolina, beans and seeds of all kinds standing around here and by the kilo. Everything presented openly and each equipped with a shovel. The same goes for rice, which can also be bought this way. Funnily enough, the confectionery department also has mountains of small packages of confectionery. From chocolate to mini cakes to dried fruits, everything is there and the Chinese love to stuff their personal mix into their bags. Usually this stuff is bought for celebrations and festivities and distributed to the children.

Milk shelf

I've already written something about yoghurt in China and you notice it extremely on the refrigerated shelf. 80% of the area is just yoghurt in a wide variety of flavors and brands. Unfortunately, you usually look for cheese in vain and even if there is one, then only this fake cheese for toasts. Milkana is apparently very popular here, so Milkana also has cheese spread directly, but like yoghurt, it is mostly sweet. You have to look for some (bad) mozzarella or Parmesan cheese in Walmarkt and then you usually pay at least twice as much as in Germany. Milk has become very popular here and there is actually everything from German imports to Chinese in-house production. The smaller milk packs in 200 ml tetra packs, which are often sold in lavish gift boxes with handles, are striking.

cash register

And then it’s time to pay and oh my God, Chinese supermarkets always have long lines in front of the checkouts. At peak times, you may have to wait 15-30 minutes until you finally get your turn. And once it's your turn, you can quickly see why that is the case. Chinese registers do NOT have a treadmill and are far too short. An estimated 60 cm shelf space at the front and 40 cm shelf space at the back are offered. Weekly shopping based on the German model is almost impossible because you can't put all the goods on it at once and have to add more. But while you are reloading goods, everything that has been scanned flies down again at the front. So what's the point, it's the stupidest system in the world and I don't understand why you do it? Well, the Chinese generally don't buy as much in the supermarket as Germans, but even with a day's shopping it gets tight and you either have to be two people or you have to organize yourself very well. Well, organizing and spurting is unfortunately not the case in China and so it always accumulates immensely at the cash registers. Supermarkets would have to come up with their own "own" system adapted to the population.

At last

When you are finally through the till you only have to go through the anti-theft device, where you have to show the receipt from time to time. If the security guard finds you suspicious, the bag can be compared with the receipt. But that has never happened to me and generally nothing happens if you just go through and don't show the receipt at all. Looks more like a job creation measure. Now all you have to do is meander through the maze of shops and pick up your bag from the machine and then you've made it.