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Grocery Shopping In The Philippines And Reasons Not To...

By: Gene Davis Posted: October-29-2009 in
Gene Davis

Shopping for groceries and other basic needs in the Philippines is an adventure in confusion and also overpricing for the newcomer. Often times, you will end up overpaying even after many years of living here if not careful.

At home in the States and most other countries, a grocery store is set up with every isle holding items classified by the type of products available including sub categories such as generic, diet, sale, and size etc.
If there is an item that you can not find just simply ask any store employee where to find the item you are looking for. Within seconds you have directions to that precious item and that’s that.

Ok, you just got off the plane in Manila a few days ago. And now you are a brand new expat in paradise. You have bought or rented a house or apartment and feel quite proud of yourself for all your efforts.
Now it’s time to head to the market to stock up on food and other needs.
After looking up and down a few streets you have managed to find what looks like a “real” grocery store. So far so good.

As you walk in the door you trip and almost fall over a cardboard box, a few small unattended kids, and a stray dog or two.

Now as you walk up and down the isles you notice a few things. Most all of the items for sale are unfamiliar in both type and brand name. Items are stacked on the shelf or possibly still in boxes. No particular order of items per isle as at home. You might find laundry soap pushed up against fresh fruits or catsup in between two different brands of diapers etc.

Unless you happen to be in a very large store you will also notice that no items for sale are marked with a price. There is no way to tell how much each item is! For the local shopper it’s no problem. They have committed to memory what should be the “right price” on every item in the store.
Not so for the brand new expat that just wants go get out of this nightmare of a store, get home and cook something to eat for what is by now going to be a late dinner.

So because of no prices on anything and the fact that you are a foreigner, at the check out stand (if you can find it) you will likely be grossly overcharged.

A P12.00 can of sandiness can cost you P30.00, P25.00 pack of smokes maybe P3500 etc. etc. etc.

After a time or two of this shopping “adventure” we learn that it’s much better to sit at home enjoying a cold beer and let the wife, girlfriend, or housekeeper deal with shopping, paying the bills, and most other dealings until we learn the ropes and are more price and local culture savvy. That way, dinner will be on time and we don’t end up overdosing on blood pressure medication from all the needless stress.

But that’s okay; we’ve learned our first lesson in foreign living as well as cultural differences. This IS what we wanted isn’t it?

After all, we have a nice, very affordable place to live, a beautiful Asian wife or girlfriend; all under a warm tropical sun and endless beaches that we have waited years to enjoy. And it does get better and easier as time goes by---I promise…

user avatar Anonymous

Grocery Shopping In The Philippines...

Where is this place, the exact location?

There are many different types of grocery store you can find in the Philippines from low-end to high-end. There is "Sari-Sari Store" usually you can find this store in your neighborhood its a small store mostly they sell on retail pieces, you cannot find a price tag here you need to ask how much is a particular item. There is also the "Market Store" this one referring to the local market nearby the community usually a wet and dry market you can find everything here fresh meat, fish, vegetables and fruits but you cannot find a price tag here too you need to ask the seller how much is the price of particular item.

If you want to find a price tag or isle holding items classified by the type of products available including sub categories such as generic, diet, sale, and size etc. you need to go to a "Supermarket" this is bigger than the first two market i mentioned with air conditioned facilities parking lots etc, usually you can find this in the busy areas or prime areas in the town, city or inside the Shopping Mall.

You can also find mostly in every corner in the town there is "Convenience Store" popularly known name such as 711 or MiniStop etc definitely you can find price tag here but items here are a little pricey than the other said store.

Lastly is the "Hypermart" this one is definitely bigger than the rest a stand alone big warehouse style market popular names like "Puregold" and "Makro" you can find everything in here from wet and dry, appliance, furniture etc name it.

You can also find this Hypermarkets mostly inside the Shopping Malls like "SM Hypermart" Robinson's Supermarkets. SM Malls, Robinson's Malls and Ayala Malls are 3 popular shopping malls in the Philippines with many different branches around the country. Most of the shopping malls in the Philippines have their own supermarket or hypermarkets inside their malls. Filipino's love to go in shopping malls because its a one stop shop you can find everything you need in only one roof.

Hopefully now you will know where to find those price tags that your looking for.



The stores with no prices, safety hazzards in the isles, and hard to find items are everywhere. At least two locctions on every block.
You are right in that the large stores like Puregold, Makro etc are set up with prices and some with airconditioning as well. Those are the stores to look for when possible.
After one has lived in country for a time the kind of store I wrote about is easier to deal with than the first time in the door and prices are often lower than the big mall type stores. Just watch your step and careful of the trip hazzards on the floor and possible overpricing.
Thanks for the comment with lots of good information...


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