From street stalls to shopping malls
To this day, Mexico remains a hot-bed of trade and commerce, offering customers street stalls, outdoor markets, indoor markets, mini plazas with a dozen or so stores and restaurants inside, full-blown US-style shopping malls—and plenty of supermarkets.
In a country criticized for lack of competition in a number of major industries, retail commerce is clearly an exception. Depending where you live in Mexico —it varies from place to place— you may have a choice of four or more supermarkets to shop at, in addition to a plethora of local stores and markets. The bigger the location, the greater the choice, with suburban residential areas tending to be better served.
Supermarkets and membership emporiums
The main supermarket chains in Mexico are Walmart, Superama, Soriana, Chedraui, and the Mega hypermarkets. There are also US-style membership stores such as Sam’s Club and Costco, and smaller economy supermarket formats like Bodega Aurrera and Sumesa.
In the higher-end markets serving foodies and niche lifestyle interests, Mexico offers shoppers an ample choice of specialized imported and homeware retail stores including La Europea, CityMarket, and in some areas the US-based hypermarket HEB.
Quaint towns with mini-markets and tienditas
Smaller towns, and some neighborhoods in bigger cities, tend to have independent “Mini Super” stores: quaint and provincial in look and feel, these shops stock everyday groceries across a range which is more extensive than local tienditas but fall quite short of the larger supermarkets.
The battle for your regular custom happens on the radio
The supermarket chains in big cities stores are constantly advertising on the radio and coming up with special offers to attract customers, as some will turn up for a single item or line of goods on offer. The main message is always: “shop with us, we’re cheaper.” This approach involves several marketing ploys that include price matching, price comparisons, loyalty cards, discounts with points, and interest-free credit under agreements with Mexican banks—to name a few. The permutations can be mind-boggling.
El Buen Fin: Mexico’s Black Friday Shopping Event
On the November 20 holiday weekend, most of the retailers across Mexico join-in “El Buen Fin,” a promotional stint offering discounts and other savings, emulating the US tradition of Black Friday: the day after Thanksgiving when stores begin their holiday-season sales. The initiative, that was first introduced in 2011, was a success and has since become a de-facto annual shopping event in Mexico, with some shops offering promotional discounts in the weeks before and after the holiday weekend.
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