There are always creative options for shopping in Shanghai, but if you just want to get all your groceries in one spot the options are more limited. True, its more fun to buy your veggies at the street stalls, and they are significantly cheaper outside as well, but for variety, government oversight and convenience you should head to one of the following top grocery shopping spots in Shanghai:
Trust Mart – This is where I usually do all of my shopping (it helps that the Trust Mart is in my building!) This two story, massive shopping mart offers snacks, cooked food, groceries, clothing and household items. If you thought the convenience of the Trust Mart sounded familiar, it should! Its owned by Wal-Mart! My first time in the store I found a Chinese copy of Sam Walton’s book amid a pile of pineapples.
One of my favorite snacks from the Trust Mart are the chips. You can find a lot of chips only released in the Asian markets, like blueberry lays, cucumber lays (awesome!) and all variety of meat flavorings (not so awesome). I also enjoy the varieties of meat on sale in the butcher’s section, including horse and live fish, eel, frog and whole frozen chickens complete with head and feet. Trust mart is a trusty option, but be wary, it is always packed. They even have shuttles throughout the day from around town to the various Trusty Mart locations in Shanghai.
Century Mart – For a few more options in the foreign foods section, head to Century Mart. My first apartment in Shanghai was only one subway stop away, so I originally did all of my shopping there. You’ll find (usually) a multi-story building complete with clothing, household goods and food. The isles are more organized and cleaner than Trust Mart, and the lines are shorter and everything is a tiny step better… of course you pay a tiny bit more for that ease. Some of the best foods at the Century Mart include foreign foods like Pringles and Chocolate Syrup. I once found Heinz ketchup there, which was a real score! You can also find a liquor store in house that includes imported beers, wines and juices, which makes the Century Mart a favorite among expats.
Lotus Center – The Lotus Center is an even bigger option than the previous two mentioned. You’ll find a lot more variety in every department except the foreign foods section (limited to a half isle). However, the meat is especially good here, and they even sell frozen chicken breast– a chicken without feet and head attached is a rare sighting in a Shanghai supermarket– so loads of foreigners head here for the headless meat. You’ll also find a large variety of candy here, local and international options and even a whole cereal isle. The place is usually packed, and a bit of a walk from any subway stops. On the upside, they have carts available and cabs usually waiting outside.
These are just some of the options available for grocery shopping in Shanghai. In Pudong (near the Bund) you can find smaller stores catering to foreigners with things like imported cheeses, drinks and other comfort foods, but most locals either shop the market stalls near their homes or else head to one of the three options listed here. A trip to Shanghai would be all the more fun with a little bit of grocery shopping thrown in for fun.