In a series of articles, I would like to write my own thought comparisons on the 5 leading grocery stores here in Switzerland.
Basically here, there are 7 grocery store chain that locals as well as visitors could be familiar with since most of them are very visible. These are COOP, Migros, Lidl, Aldi, Denner, Spar and Volg.
The first article is my review of the COOP.
COOP is one of the two biggest grocery stores here in Switzerland. They are in every city and villages as well as in big train stations. COOP supermarket is part of the COOP Group that also has the Interdiscount (an electronics store), COOP City (their shopping mall concept), COOP Bau und Hobby (Home Depot store), Livique (Home Deco and Accessories), Import Perfumerie (Beauty and Health store), COOP@home (grocery delivery), Christ Watches and Jewelry (Jewelry store), COOP Mineralöl (Gas), Fust (Electronics and Home Depot), COOP Vitality (Pharmacy), COOP Restaurant (self service type of restaurant), Betty Bossi(food product), The Body Shop Switzerland (beauty store).
I mention these sister companies because one of the big benefits of COOP is that you can earn shopping points that at the end of the year, has an option to be converted into a gift card. This shopping points can be earned by presenting your COOP Supercard in the checkout.
So being loyal to COOP pays and as you can see, they have most if not all areas covered. So if you shop in their stores, you earn points and can pay with these points.
Also, when you have a Supercard, you can buy REKA Checks at a 3% discount. REKA Checks has a 1:1 value with Franks. You can use REKA Checks to pay SBB (the Swiss public transportation). REKA is also accepted in lots of Swiss hotels and parks here in Switzerland.
COOP Supermarket however, has the reputation of being the most expensive grocery chain in Switzerland. It is true, for the most part.
However, COOP Supermarket carry the big names in the international food industry that is why at first glance, they really are very expensive. They have a wide array of choices: big names, lactose-free products, vegan, organic, locally made produce, special label products (ie. Fairtrade, ), etc. These can of course be really expensive.
However, COOP also has the Prix Garantie line which is their budget line. For example, you can have a Granini, Michel or Andros orange juice for a ‘normal’ Swiss price, or you can buy a Prix Garantie orange juice. It is still an orange juice, is it not? An Andros orange juice costs 4.90 chf while a Prix Garantie Orange juice is just 1.95 chf. It is a big price difference but then COOP Supermarket gives you options and you can just buy according to your tastes or health requirement.
Also, as common in Swiss grocery stores, hours before store closing or on late Saturdays, COOP puts their fresh produce nearing their buy-before end dates in 50% off. So it could be a good deal. What I do is when I chance these opportunities, I buy a lot then freeze, or I use them in my meal preps.
So here are my big points for COOP.
- Supercard and how wide the COOP Group is. There are more opportunites to earn points. The option to convert these points into a gift card is an added bonus, too.
- REKA Check Benefit. This is a big one for me since I do not have a car and I am always using public transportation. 3% is not a lot but it helps in penny pinching.
- They carry a wide variety of products. This is also important for me since I am lactose-free and trying to transition to being vegetarian.
- They are everywhere so easily accessible. :=)
I do not have anything negative to say about this supermarket. Of course people say they are the most expensive supermarket here in Switzerland and I agree but to each his own. At the end of the day, if one can afford a certain cost of living than it is absolutely his choice. COOP gives this option to people and to that, respect.
My next article review would be about COOP’s competition which is MIGROS Supermarket and the Migros Group.