That moment when you realise you’ve just paid a small fortune for your boring and basic food shopping is a Hong Kong expat right of passage. Cutting your grocery bill may seem an impossible task but, if you’re flexible and willing to shop around, it can be done! Savvy shoppers on a budget avoid the dominant supermarkets, wet markets are an excellent money saver, but this post is about discount supermarkets where you can buy typical expat fare at lower prices.
Don’t go to these stores expecting to get your complete weekly shopping list in one-stop. In most cases you need a flexible attitude because stocks will vary from visit to visit, so be prepared to grab the bargains when you see them. Our top tip: note down the prices of your staple items at your regular supermarket before you hit-up the discount stores so you can be sure you’re getting good prices.
This is my personal favourite budget grocery store. They have 15 stores around Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and, as with most of the discount grocery stores listed here, the shops themselves are small. A large proportion of USelect’s stock is from British supermarket brand ‘Tesco’, and the savings are fantastic. You’ll find a full range of everyday groceries here, including jams and spreads, ready-to-use sauces, pasta, wine, juice, tinned goods, snack foods, herbs and spices, yogurt, cheese, butter, frozen food, veg… I could go on. I’ve been shopping here for a few months now and all the Tesco-brand foods that I’ve tried have been good quality. USelect is great, but it’s likely that not all your favourites will be in stock at any given visit. They accept credit cards.
Prizemart are a well established discount brand with 24 stores, a few of which sell frozen food, but the majority only sell dried and canned food (not fresh produce) and household goods. These are busy stores, a good indication that you’re getting a good deal. Prizemart is great for bulk-buy bargains on goods like rice, nuts, honey, peanut butter, muesli and olive oil. You can also pick up well-priced pasta, UHT milk, mayonnaise, Nutella, tinned food and they have an extensive range of chocolates and snacks. Take cash and plenty of patience to weave your way through crowds of bargain hunters.
759 have more than 50 stores all over Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. They specialise in imported Japanese goods, so if you’re in search of Japanese food (especially snacks) then this is the place to come. As well as the snacks, there’s a reasonable selection of other food, including some fresh and frozen, household items and personal care items. I’ve found you can get decent savings on rice, noodles, pasta, peanut butter, Nutella, mayonnaise, frozen meat and cleaning materials among other things. 759 do take credit cards.
With over 50 stores to choose from there’s a good chance you’ll find one nearby. There’s lots of snack food available here, but the main draw is the great deals on nuts, dried fruit, spreads and condiments. You can also find some cleaning products and personal care items, but no fresh or frozen food. Best Mart 360 have a member card that you can use to collect reward points and they do take credit cards.
Twins Co are specialists in all things baking-related, the prices of which can be particularly eye-watering in some Hong Kong retail outlets. They have three stores (Yau Ma Tei, Wan Chai and Tseun Wan) where you can pick up butter, flour, food colouring, flavourings, cake-tins, muffin cases and much more at a decent discount. They don’t take credit cards, so remember to bring cash, and while you’re there you should sign up for their membership scheme for extra savings.
Despite not being a discount store as such, A & M get a special mention here because if you shop carefully you can pick up some bargains, particularly on household goods. They have branches in Central and Stanley, where they sell a large range of American imports, including some homewear and toys alongside the groceries (no fresh food here). If you’re from the USA and missing a particular item from back home then there’s a good chance you’ll find it at A & M. Despite the packages being bulk sized (and Americans know how to do seriously supersized packages), the prices are similar to your typical HK supermarket. Still, a savvy shopper armed with a calculator can pick up some bargains and A & M deliver, which is a big plus.
If you have a discount store you think we should add to this post please email us at [email protected] Happy shopping!
Photos (clockwise from top): Prizemart in the Lanes, 759 on Queens Road West, Bestmart 360 at Tsing Yi and USelect in Sheung Wan