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Shopping in Russia
October 20, 2006 15:54

Soviet times with empty counters and long queues have sunk into oblivion. Nowadays the variety of goods in Russian shops is taken for granted and one can find everything a customer wishes. It’s necessary to mention that prices vary from region to region and tend to be higher in large cities rather than in province.

Public markets

There are open-air or closed public markets in most districts of big Russian cities and normally one for a whole town in province. Such markets are popular with lower and middle – class people because of universality and costs range: there it’s possible to find almost everything at laugh causing prices. However, quality of goods sold in such markets needs to be checked carefully before buying a thing. While buying clothing or footwear bargaining is accepted and there is a chance to beat down the price. Everyday clothing prices in Europe are somewhat lower than in Russia, so it’s hard to call buying clothes in Russia reasonable, but people willing to save money can take public markets as an alternative. Food prices generally do not differ much from those in shops, but quality is often better plus you can always taste food before buying it. Fruit and vegetables cost depends on a season, but whenever you buy them, you must give them a careful wash at home.


Shops in Russia are picking up traditions of western style trade; however, one still can find shops run like in Soviet times. Unlike selfservice shops and supermarkets, Soviet–style shops have separate cashiers and sellers at the counters who customers are expected to ask to show and give the chosen purchases. There are also a lot of small private food shops in Russia, usually run by comers from the south of the Russian Federation. Such shops usually work longer hours than most of big supermarkets. The best tip which could be given about these shops is to check the expiry date. Round – the – clock shops are not a rarity in Russia, especially in big cities.

Cigarettes, vodka, and caviar

In Russia cigarettes legally are not sold to people under 18 and big shops and supermarkets generally follow this rule to retain their reputation. It’s widely known that tobacco prices are much lower than in Europe, so every guest to Russia has a chance to compare not only prices but also the taste of the Russian – made tobacco. Red caviar can be bought in every more or less big shop or supermarket and the price now is 6.5 USD per 100 g approximately. It’s not advised to buy caviar in small private shops. At the same time public markets offer weighed out caviar, which is often better in quality than caviar in tins. Same advice can be given about buying vodka – you’d better buy it in big shops only. Counterfeit vodka is quite a common thing here: Russian media often report news about surrogate alcohol production and seizing. Recent amendments to the law have to some extent improved the situation, but one must still be careful while buying alcohol production.

Retail sellers

Officially street trade is forbidden in Russia, yet one still can find retail sellers in the streets, near and inside metro, in suburban electric trains, etc. They generally offer various trifles from umbrellas to newspapers, usually at prices lower than that in shops. It’s a matter of personal choice – to buy or not to buy, because purchasing something from retail sellers is not a big deal. However, one must keep in mind that buying things from this type of sellers stimulates illegal trade.

Internet shopping

Internet shopping is getting more and more popular in Russia and the number of people resorting to this kind of service has been constantly increasing. Less time consumption is probably the main reason of the popularity Internet shopping has amongst Russians, but the price aspect often looks beneficially too. Delivery system works well but traditionally price of the ordered item depends on rapidity of delivery. It’s necessary to mention, that Internet shopping and services are widely available in big Russian cities while provincial towns are still cut off the global Internet service system.

Lavrentyeva Natalya

Tags: Shopping in Russia Shopping in Moscow    

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