Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shopping at Swiss Supermarkets (COOP & Migros)

Two major supermarket chains in Swiss are COOP and Migros (similar to our NTUC & Cold Storage). I have carefully planned all my 5 hotels to be walking distance to at least one of these, so we could buy water, food and essentials whenever we need during our trip. Shopping at Swiss supermarkets was quite different from what we're used to in SG. Here are some pointers to a smooth shopping experience at a Swiss local supermarket.

COOP at Unterseen, Interlaken

COOP at Unterseen, Interlaken

Hypermart sized COOP City in Zurich

Smaller COOP Express store in Montreux

Migros in Vevey

Migros in Montreux

Migros inside Geneva station

During my trip planning I came across this blog post and benefited greatly from her useful info on Discovering Geneva's grocery stores. Although she's based in Geneva, the COOP and Migros stores operates pretty much the same way in other parts of Switzerland. She mentioned Manor Food as one of her fave stores to shop for grocery, I've been to two Manor department stores (Geneva & Zurich) but have not explored their fresh food area, so my post will be only on COOP and Migros.

Manor in Zurich

When entering the supermarket, do what we usually do in SG, pick up a basket or a pushcart. We didn't have to use a pushcart though since we're just travelers but if you do need one, do arm yourself with some CHF2.00 coin to unlock the carts. Then proceed to navigate the aisles and get your stuffs.

Buying Water
When getting drinking water, do check the labels for Sparkling/Still, Fizzy/Non-fizzy etc. for indication on whether the bottled water is a gassy one or not. The packaging looks 99% the same for both and words can be very small (and in foreign lang) but do look out for them cos we made the mistake twice and bought half a dozen gassy water which was very hard to finish.

Buying Fresh Fruits & Veggies
In Switzerland, bagging the fruits, weighing them and sticking the price labels onto the bag is SELF SERVICE. Grab a plastic bag, pick your fruits and put them in the bag. Note down the code number displayed with that fruit and proceed to a nearby digital weighing scale, punch in the code number and put the bag of fruits on the scale. Take the printed price label and paste it on the bag before heading to the check out line. The cashier will not do the weighing for you.

If you didn't want to go through the trouble, grab a bag of pre-packed fruits (limited selections though) with a ready price tag on it, like the one I got below. Downside is there may be one or two spoil apples inside cos you don't get to choose them one by one.

Pre-packed apples with price tag

Checking out at Supermarkets
If you are using a basket or pushcart, you'll have to take out the items and place them onto the conveyor belt yourself. The cashier's job is just to scan the items and take payment from you, everything else is DIY. So don't put the basket on the conveyor belt and wait for miracle to happen.

BYOB (Bring your own bags)
Many Supermarkets in Europe do not provide plastic bags free of charge. Some COOP and Migros do have free low quality ones at check out counters but it really depends, so to be safe bring some recycle bags with you for shopping! If you happen to need a bag, tell the cashier, they'll scan one for you first, cos you'll need to BYOG (Bag your own goods) when they start scanning your items.

BYOG (Bag your own goods)
The cashier usually scans the items very fast and push all the items to the end of the counter. Nobody will be there to help you bag your stuffs, so you must get ready your recycle bag before your turn in the queue. After payment, grab your items and put them in the bag quickly cos the next customer's items will start coming this way too. There will be a divider to separate your stuffs and the next customer's stuffs so they don't get mix up, but be mentally ready cos its not something we're used to doing so we'll be slow to react.

Now you know our NTUC aunties (cashiers) are very pai tan (hard to earn) right?

Ham, Roast chicken & Salad budget meal from COOP

Roast half chicken from COOP

Swiss apples from COOP, very sweet!

Tuna sandwich from COOP

Horrible sushi from COOP

Horrible sushi from COOP

Desserts from COOP

Gingerbread cookies from COOP

Gingerbread cookies from COOP

Low quality Migros brand Choc croissants & Popcorn (lao hong one)

Dried mixed fruits from Migros, quite nice.

Do note that supermarkets and shopping malls are all closed on Sundays, accept for some that are located inside Train stations and the Airports. Many people will shop for their Sunday goods on Saturdays, the stores will tend to be extra crowded on Saturdays. Keep that in mind when you plan your shopping trips, and happy shopping in Switzerland!

COOP website
Migros website