Where Should You Go for Groceries?
We’re all constantly looking for the best bang for our buck, but do you know where you can get it? For many urbanites, grocery shopping equals supermarkets and hypermarkets such as Tesco, Econsave, Giant, or AEON. They aren’t your only choices for groceries. Remember those wet markets and sundry shops you used to visit as a child? Don’t write them off yet just because supermarkets are convenient one-stops!
The price war is skewed towards supermarkets and hypermarkets, the big kids on the block who can sign lucrative deals for bulk purchases that wet market vendors and sundry shops find hard to beat. Indeed, with more and more retailers signing deals with suppliers that cut out the middleman, and vowing to reduce or control the prices of goods, you’ll find that most groceries are cheaper at their outlets.
All hope isn’t lost yet, though. While it’s true that supermarkets can afford to offer you lower prices, especially if you buy in bulk, the ability to haggle for your purchases is still limited to your good old wet market. You can try to negotiate in some sundry shops too, although with lesser chance of success.
Again, due to their sheer size and capital, supermarkets can offer you variety – they’re practically wet markets, sundry shops, and convenience stores cobbled together under one roof. You can probably find a greater variety of fish or meat or produce at the wet market, but can you also get spoilt for choice when it comes to milk powder, facial products, or other items not typically sold there? When it comes to branded goods, supermarkets are your comparison companions. When it comes to specialised fresh goods, your wet market is a strong competitor.
Ease of Access
Big supermarkets and hypermarkets are usually a little out of town because they require a big (and cheaper) plot of land for their building. Wet markets and sundry shops, on the other hand, can sprout anywhere, from a wide avenue like the former Chow Kit wet market in Kuala Lumpur, to the spill-over sprawls colloquially known as Chowrasta Market in Penang, to nameless spots in housing areas. If you’re thinking of popping out just for a jar of jam and a loaf of bread, your area’s sundry shop is probably a lot more accessible than the nearest Tesco or Giant you can find!
Supermarkets don’t get to have it all. Some may have inked deals directly with suppliers, but if they buy in bulk, inevitably some of the produce is sorrier-looking and less fresh than the rest as new stocks arrive before the old stock is completely cleared out. They also don’t usually get new stocks every day. Wet markets, on the other hand, restock their wares from wholesalers or suppliers at the crack of dawn every morning, and if they buy smartly to coast past the turn-over rate, you can bet that their products are fresher. It’s 50-50 for sundry shops, especially products that don’t move very fast, but then again that’s what best-before dates are for, right?
Unless you’re on very good terms with wet market vendors, be prepared to pay for your purchases in cash. Supermarkets and even some sundry shops, on the other hand, have the option of letting you buy on credit, either via credit card or an invoice that’s sent to you at the end of a week or a month. Debit cards are also acceptable.
This is one aspect in which supermarkets sorely lose out. Supermarkets are impersonal and you deal with employees. In wet markets, it’s possible that you deal with a foreign worker, but usually it’s the owner of the store or a long-term, local employee that you meet. You’ll be able to recognise and get friendly with them if you go often enough. In this impersonal world of gadgets and the Internet, sometimes becoming friends with your vendor is a simple, heart-warming way to start your morning.
Supermarkets are very convenient, but they’re not yet your best value for money depending on what you’re looking to buy. Write up a grocery shopping list before you head out to decide whether it’s a supermarket, wet market, or sundry shop for you!