I prefer the French chain Carrefour ahead of most other available choices in Shanghai. After many years in China, I have learned to avoid going to these stores at peak times. If you visit the stores after work on a weekday you will quickly realize your mistake when you hear the saleswomen on microphones screaming about the yogurts and milk they are selling, when you are pushing your way thru the crowded, hellish and stressful aisles.
Screaming saleswomen, hellish aisles together with the not logical layout of the stores are three good reasons to avoid them during rush hours. Go there in the early morning and take your time to find the stuff you are looking for, don’t rely on the salespeople for any constructive help on finding products.
If I only need to buy a few things I prefer to pop into Lianhua, 联华. Lianhua is a typical basic local grocery store, they are usually within walking distance from most apartment buildings. They are really convenient for spontaneous and unplanned purchasing as well as quick shopping of small daily necessities.
The most unpleasant place to do grocery shopping is without a doubt the local wet markets. These are markets where everything is fresh and on display, meat, fish and vegetables of all kinds. Looks like a zoo and smells like a zoo. The shopping is done according to weight and everything is unpacked. As another blogger wrote, some people love wet markets and some don’t. I really don’t.