Shopping in Russia
Information on opening hours, sales and places to shop in Russia…
Over 20 years since the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia now provides innumerable opportunities for shopping. Be it food and basic household items, white goods and electrical appliances, stationery, souvenirs, furniture and DIY goods or clothes, there are many places to buy these items; from online stores to outdoor markets, local shops to shopping centres as well as superstores and hypermarkets.
Many goods are imported, especially white goods and electrical products, but there are also a lot of goods produced locally and from the Slavic states of Belarus and Ukraine. As well as the places to shop mentioned in this section, the underground passages that lead from the street to the Moscow Metro have long been appropriated by independent traders selling all kinds of goods.
In addition to imported goods, there are also ‘imported’ store chains, including MediaMarkt, OBI, Auchan, IKEA and Selgros. Moscow, and to a lesser extent St Petersburg, may not feel entirely unfamiliar to foreign visitors, as many global chains operate there selling goods and services.
However, this does not mean that everybody can speak English. Finding English-speaking assistance may be difficult in any type of shop, but once shoppers have found what they need, little more than basic Russian should be necessary for the transaction. In cases of difficulty, one idea is to draw a shopping list and ask an English-speaking Russian acquaintance to help.
Russian stores operate fairly long hours, usually from 09:00 or 10:00 to between 18:00 and 22:00. Local stores may close at 18:00 while hypermarkets may remain open until nearer 23:00. Depending on their location, some hypermarkets and supermarkets selling food even stay open 24/7. Markets tend to operate from 10:00 to 20:00. Pharmacies also operate similar hours, although there are usually a couple in every large city that open around the clock.
Most large stores are open seven days a week. Smaller stores may close on Sunday, and sometimes also on Saturday. All stores will either be closed, or operate shorter hours on New Year's Day (1 January). Likewise, they close anytime between 16:00 and 21:00 on New Year's Eve (December 31).
Alcohol is not sold in any Russian store at night between 23:00 and 08:00.
Discounts and Sales
Stores often have a general discount policy, for instance the ‘Shocking Price’ campaign at the Sedmoy Continent chain, which promotes specific products at low prices. Traditional sales models (3-for-2 or 2-for-1 for example) are not widely used in Russia; instead a sale normally means a certain percentage being reduced from the original price. This can be as high as 80 percent off. The traditional European sales that occur in winter and summer here blend with the general discount policies to offer deals all year round.
Making a Payment
Credit or debit cards are accepted as methods of payment in many shops and there is usually no minimum or maximum spend limit. Some stores may request proof of identity for customers paying by card. It is not uncommon for slow connections to cause delays when attempting to pay by card. Smaller shops and some shopping centres may only accept cash, depending on individual policies.
It is possible to buy food, home furnishings and even white goods online in Russia and have it delivered to a home or office. This service is available from most of the websites of the shops listed in this section. Delivery may take one or two days, but is normally reliable and professional. One difficulty there maybe is language; almost no shop or chain-store has a website in English. A solution is to either ask a Russian-speaking friend for help or to rely on own language skills and knowledge of products.
Other online options include:
As well as the listings for shops and stores on the following pages, more information can be found on YellowPagesRussia