Wednesday, January 03, 20073 comments
I visited the new Carrefour in Amman last week, but I’ve held off writing about it until after reading other reviews. Here are my impressions.
- Everything is in one place. Sure, most of their products are the same as the ones carried by Safeway, Cozmo and C-Town, but instead of traveling from store to store, you can get it all in a single stop.
- Everything is clearly marked. This was probably the biggest shocker for me. Until now, I have yet to see a store where everything was organized and clearly (and accurately) marked. All the signs are written in both Arabic and English.
- Prices are comparable. They’re not drastically cheaper. They’re not extremely inflated. They’re average, and that’s fine by me.
- Some new products. Crisco, sauce packets, greater Pop-Tart variety. The list goes on for another minute, but not much longer (see "very few new products" below).
- Ample parking. I didn’t take advantage of the underground parking, as I managed to find a space outside directly in front of the store. I hear that there are around 3,200 spaces down below the complex, although this will be shared by all City Mall customers and is not exclusive to Carrefour, so I’m not sure this counts. With the absence of parking spots in Amman, however, this a giant leap in the right direction.
- Very few new products. Even though they have everything, by everything I mean all the products currently carried in Jordan. There are a lot of good products out there that never make it here. I would expect a huge French conglomerate like Carrefour could afford to bring more goodies to the masses.
- Pay-per-cart. In order to retrieve a cart out of the queue, one must (snugly) insert a 10 piaster coin into the slot. When you return the cart, your coin is returned. I have a hard time griping about this after spending the summer in England and having to insert a 1 Pound coin (nearly $2) in order to retrieve a cart. However, I can foresee a couple caveats to this. What happens if I don’t have any change? I can imagine how put out the staff is going to be when I try to make change in order to collect a cart. Also, what happens when all of my bagged groceries don’t fit in a single cart? (This tends to happen to groceries after they are bagged.) With the new pay-per-cart system, baggers cannot grab a second cart and start loading it with my stuff. I just don’t see cart theft as a huge deal in Jordan, not enough to warrant this hassle, anyway.
- Variety is a bit slim. I guess I can’t ding Carrefour exclusively for this problem, since it plagues all stores in Jordan. They have 6 types of stand-alone grillers in the appliance section and not a single waffle iron. The electronics section carries Sony Playstations and PSPs, and that’s it. No X-Box, no Nintendo. In-line skates for anyone over the age of 4? Forget it! Men’s house slippers that aren’t clog style? Zero. I could go on, but you get the idea.
- Can the Carrefour maintain its cleanliness and orderliness, or will things slowly degenerate into the status quo over the next 8 months?
- Will we begin to see a greater variety of products with reduced prices, or will Carrefour be swallowed up in the sameness of other Jordan supermarkets?
- Will I need a shopping cart attendant to help me jam a 10 piaster coin into the incredibly small cart slot each time I visit the store?
Only time will tell.