Supermarkets in Cartagena range in size from convenient express stores to large hypermarkets stocking a vast selection of goods. Express stores are found throughout the city and surrounding residential areas. These are usually part of larger supermarket chains such as Carrefour and Spar and often found attached to petrol stations. Carrefour also have an excellent hypermarket that's located in the Espacio Mediterráneo Shopping Complex on the outskirts of the city centre. Even with all the supermarkets, many locals still do much of their grocery shopping at local markets.
Supermarkets in Cartagena are usually bright and modern with well stocked shelves and a choice of fresh produce departments. Aisles tend to be wide, allowing easy access for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. The end section of these are often reserved for the store's special offer and bargain displays. Check out staff may seem a bit lacking as they have to multi-task and stock shelves when the store is not busy. However, as soon as a queue starts to form they are usually quick to get back on their tills. Most staff don't speak much English but are usually keen to help.
The amount and size of fresh produce departments depends on the size of the supermarket. The Spanish are not big fans of pre-packed and convenience food, hence doing much of their fresh produce shopping at the local markets. Due to this you will find even the small chains such as Dia and Spar will have some sort of fresh produce departments. Larger ones and hypermarkets have vast and varied departments. These include in-house bakeries, fruit & vegetables, delicatessen, butcheries and fishmongers. Staff in these departments are highly trained and have a passion for their work. They will offer advice on what cuts to use in certain dishes and various cooking times.
Most Spanish products are equally as good as international brands. However, these are labelled in Spanish but most products are easily identifiable. You won't find a lot of convenience foods or microwave meals and the ones you do are quite expensive. This shouldn't bother the average holidaymaker as they take many meals in bars and restaurants. The supermarkets make up for their lack of convenience foods with a delicious selection of delicatessen. Apart from their great delicatessen counters, the larger supermarkets have entire aisles of delicatessen products. Some of the more popular British products can be found, so be sure to ‘avoid' the awful Spanish tea 🙂