Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Rant No. 4: The Supermarket.

Coming from England, I never envisioned not being able to buy everything you want under one roof.

A 24-hour Tesco around the corner can give you the false impression that fully stocked shelves are available 24/7 everywhere.

In Berlin I found out that sadly this is not true.

It was hard to find a chicken. Yes, a chicken! I had to buy 3 tiny chickens instead. So, we each had our own mini chicken, or Poussin, whatever you call them, on our plate. Novel – as a one off! But, how hard can it be to get a whole chicken?

Sometimes the supermarket will run out of eggs or milk. You know, just the essentials.

Don’t expect to be able to buy mincemeat on a Saturday evening.

Don’t expect there to buy both baked beans and rocket in the same supermarket.

Certainly don’t expect to buy beef.

Actually forget everything you already know about supermarkets. It no longer applies.

Prepare yourself for having to visit at least two supermarkets to get everything you need. Prepare yourself not to be able to pay on Credit Card. Prepare yourself not to be able to do your shopping on a Sunday.

Prepare for long queues. Prepare for just one check out being open. Prepare yourself for unhelpful shop assistants who deliberately don’t move out of your way.

Forget 3 for 2s, 2 for 1s or any other offer. Forget shelf re-stockers. If we run out, we run out.

And forget fresh spinach.


  1. Not just supermarkets! I wrote this on the FB group but thought I'd post it here:

    Why is there no easily accessible one-stop shop for everyday items, like Target in the U.S., or in the case of most of Europe, hypermarkets one can even find downtown. France and Spain have them all over the place - Auchan, Monoprix, Eroski, etc... These are places that, unlike Kaufland and Real, have everything one could need for the household, including electronics and food items, furniture, and what not, and decent textiles.

    Case in point: the other day I wanted to buy a small, basic, metal desk lamp. I couldn't think of anywhere nearby to get one - maybe Woolworth's? Nope. DM or Rossmann? No wait, they aren't like drugstores in the U.S. But they have bulbs! Saturn? Think again. Do I really have to go all the freakin' way to Ikea to get a basic lamp?! Screw it, decided to buy it on Amazon and have it shipped, although I still had to go to dm to buy the bulb because they were 12 euros EACH with shipping on Amazon.

  2. In order to get all produce at one place you need to go to a good bigger supermarket - not one of the cheap discounters. Try Rewe or Kaisers.

    I miss Target too - having lived in the US for 7 years that is really one of the things I miss most. BUT try Galeria Kaufhof or Karstadt - you should find everything you need in there!

    Best Imke

  3. err, maybe there are no one-stop shops so that our communities don't turn into ghost towns and we dont all end up buying the same made in china crap and so that small businesses can actually survive and so that people can actually go shopping without driving 30 miles in an SUV. Hate to say it but, yknow you could always move to fucking Texas...

  4. Another interesting and observant post.
    These super-stores don't seem to be profitable here in Germany, or we would have them.
    Wal-Mart tried to contest in the German market and they didn't have a single profitable year, so they gave up and sold all their markets to Real.

    The German food market is especially hard and margins are very low.
    I am always surprised how expensive food is in some European countries, compared to the average income (Portugal or Greece come to mind, Spain as well). And I don't mean fancy things like beef that was actually raised on a meadow instead of a narrow stall, but things like eggs, apples, milk, butter, soft drinks and so on.