Thursday 9 February 2023

Costa Rica Supermarket Merchandising Practices

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8 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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Image for illustrative purposes
Image for illustrative purposes

(QBLOGS) I don’t think anyone would disagree, that the two top supermarket chains in Costa Rica are AutoMercado and Mas x Menos (Walmart), both as to overall quality and selection, especially when it comes to imported goods.

I’m sure that their owner/managers have visited similar business ventures in the U.S. and Canada, such as Safeway, and have tried to mimic their merchandising practices somewhat.

In such foreign supermarkets, there is no head of lettuce displayed with a brown leaf, or apples displaying bruising from mis-handling as there is in these local entities.

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I find it strange that there are good examples of how to conduct supermarket merchandising, but in my opinion, even the most highly rated and expensive supermarket chain in Costa Rica, AutoMercado, it falls short of the mark.

Supermarkets are designed, of course, to make your grocery shopping a “one-stop” event.

However, when fruit and vegetables are offered by the AutoMercado, in an almost putrid state, it is difficult not to opt for the local farmer’s market as an alternative, both as to quality and price. It is a weekly occurrence for grapes being offered in AutoMercado at the outrageous price of ¢6,000 colones ($11.50 U.S.) a kilogram, displayed rotting in their plastic bags.

AutoMercado has ceased to import Jumex brand tomato juice from Mexico, forcing me to make an additional stop at Mas x Menos, just to complete that weekly purchase. Strangely enough, the only place in Mas x Menos where it is offered, is right next to the vodka in the liquor section, not in the juice section.

What reasonable person would ever want to drink tomato juice without a shot of vodka, I guess.

Don’t be surprised that on your next visit to one of these two Costa Rican supermarkets, that you don’t have to look for the toothpaste next to the corn flakes. A little more attention to merchandising by these two entities would go a long way.

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Richard Philps
Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney; Email:, Website:

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