HypermarketsList of Chains - Click>
Families on a tight budget can make considerable savings by shopping at Hypermarkets, Supermarkets while staying in Europe.
Hypermarkets are the largest of these stores and were pioneered in Europe by the French. Good examples include Auchan, Carrefour, Pryca, Al Campo. The cheapest prices will normally be found in these stores. They are usually part of a retail park with other shops, cafeterias and restaurants.
Hypermarkets mainly sell groceries but also sell numerous lines such as, clothes, jewelry, hardware, sports equipment, cycles, motor accessories, books, CD's, DVD's, videos, TV's, electrical equipment, computers. Stores invariably accept Credit cards. The Hypermarkets almost always have their own Petrol Station on the site. Other facilities on the site include banks with cash machines, Photo processing shops, and Pharmacies. Hypermarkets are located in the outskirts of major towns and Cities so a car is desirable to get to them. Parking is usually ample and free. Very often Hotels from the major budget chains are close by.
Supermarkets are a lot smaller than Hypermarkets and are normally located closer to the town centres. Parking is not guaranteed at all locations. Prices are competitive but not usually as cheap as in the Hypermarkets. Product ranges are not as varied either. Good examples include ASDA, Intermarche, Super U, Real.
Discount StoresThe last type of shop covered on this page are the Discount Stores. These are small stores that do not offer a very wide choice of brands. However what they do offer is heavily discounted. They tend to run promotions usually weekly on items ranging from clothes to office equipment. Many of these shops will not accept Credit Cards, although this varies from country to country. To take Aldi as an example they accept Credit Cards in some French Stores while in the UK you will need to pay by Debit Card or cash. Good examples of these chains include Kwik Save, Lidl, Aldi and Ed. Petrol, Diesel etc. are all cheaper at the Hypermarket forecourt. They tend to be the lowest prices in the area as the Hypermarkets try not to be undercut. In France many of these stations also offer LPG. The only downsides of using these stations is that the Fuel is unbranded and if you have a very high performance vehicle it may not perform as well. Finding them is also more tricky, however Hypermarkets and large Supermarkets have good signage directing you there. In the UK look out for Superstore, in France look for Centre Commercial (CCial).
Cafeterias and RestaurantsThe Cafeterias may be owned by the Store or belong to a large chain such as Flunch. Meals are usually simple but very good value. They can also provide healthy eating. I am obliged to stick to a Low Fat Diet due to a medical condition, but this proved a very minor problem when eating at a Flunch. The only really high fat items on sale were French Fries.
WebsitesNearly all of the Hypermarket and Supermarket chains have Web Sites. Some even have an online store. In many cases the store locations, information on the instore facilities such as petrol stations, cafeterias, travel agents, opticians etc. are also published online.
TipsSupermarkets are ideal for picking up food for picnics. Local varieties of bread, cheeses and meats usually work out most economical.
If travelling from the UK to mainland Europe it is best to let your car fuel tank get as empty as possible prior to getting on the ferry. Fuel is significantly cheaper outside the UK.
Find out where the nearest hypermarket is to the Port of Entry into the country and head there to fill up upon arrival. Many filling stations have automated credit card operated pumps and operate 24/7, in the past these would never recognise my British credit cards.
If are looking for shopping bargains always make a note of prices at home to ensure that you know whether you are getting a good deal.