A French-owned supermarket chain in China
01/29/2013 - 01/29/2013 72 °F
It is only 10 days before the Chinese New Year, and even the air smelled like celebration. On our way home from the piano lesson today, Skyler and I stopped at Carrefour, which is a french chain of supermarkets that is everywhere in the major cities of China. Michael wrote about visiting one during our visit in 2008.
We took an escalator into the store. The special escalator is at about a 30-degree angle and stays flat instead of rolling into steps. This design allows the shopping carts to move up and down as the supermarkets have three floors. The moment we walked into the store, our entire vision was filled with red, red and more red. It goes from red lanterns, red envelopes, red posters, and red trinkets and things with good fortune messages for the new year. The entire store is dressed up with red banners that translates into "big happiness for the new year".
Adjacent to the decor was a section of special foods that came abundant for the Chinese New Year: candy, jello, cookies, nuts. Skyler was immediately drawn to the gold chocolate coins and we wound up buying 10 of them.
We first looked around the produce section. The price is at least tripled from what I remembered back then, but it still does not match up with the growth in the price of meats. The price for pork has skyrocketed. Pork is much more expensive than what it would be in U.S., even after the conversion of the two currencies. I suppose the amount of meat a family can afford to consume is still a measure of its wealth in the Chinese society. I remember just three decades ago, pork was such a scarce and luxury item that families could only afford it very occasionally. Even for the families that can afford it, they could only buy it when they had the "meat tickets" due to the tightly controlled supply by the government. We saw a lot more service people around, stocking shelves, cleaning up, cutting meat and etc. There are weighing stations almost around every corner. Customers have to take their bagged fresh produce to be weighed there first before checking out. At the weighing station, a price label is produced and attached to the bag of groceries. The bag is sealed using a machine that uses this special tape. The only way to open it is to rip the bag open, or should I just say it is not openable at all.
There is an obvious abundance of food, all kinds of food. What fascinated Skyler most was the cooked food section where you can purchase ready-made food, or even order food to be made on the spot.
Here are some pictures showing the fascination Chinese people have with feet, all kinds of feet.
At the checkout lane, the cashiers were wearing uniforms of a traditional style. There was no exchange of pleasantries between cashiers and customers whatsoever. Many of the cashiers seem to have a serious, matter of fact look. I bet many of them are overworked and are poorly paid. One thing I liked is that plastic shopping bags have to be purchased and cost 1.5 Yuan each. There are way too many plastic bags in the markets of China, and it probably adds tons to the landfill every single day. One thing I still need time adjusting to is how little 100 yuan can buy. If I spend $100 in a grocery store in Michigan, I would have a pretty decent variety of foods that can last my family of four at least half a week. Here in China, I will have to be very smart if I want to even feed my family decently for a day. Immigrant workers from rural areas in the service industry does not make much: 2000 to 3000 yuan a month at most. I wonder how those people are living in a city as expensive as Guangzhou. It would not surprise me a bit if they still have to budget for their meals.