Supermarkets in Panama

There several supermarket chains in Panama loaded with all kinds of goodies from every corner of the world.  Being Panama an international commercial hub, you can find just about anything here.

The largest supermarket chains in the country are:  El Machetazo, Super 99, El Rey and El Super Xtra.  The latter was considered the ugly duckling of the group.  However, in recent years the Harari family, owners of the chain, have invested heavily to augment its competitive edge.

During my last photo hunting trip to El Dorado, I stopped at El Super Extra which was recently inaugurated just a few block from our house.  It is a beautiful structure with an impressive light blue tainted glass entrance supported by a sophisticated steel frame.  We tested the supermarket searching for competitive prices, but returned disappointed.  We prefer to buy at El Machetazo, which has cheaper prices and relatively modern installations.  We have been buying in this place ever since we moved to El Bosque in 1980.

Below are several pictures of El Super Xtra supermarket which reflects the good taste of our architects in Panama.  Here we go.

Snapshot of the main entrance of El Super Xtra Supermarket with its impressive glass wall and steel support. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
In this picture you can clearly see the name of the edifice: El Super Xtra in bright red and green colors. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

4 thoughts on “Supermarkets in Panama”

  1. Out here in Chiriqui we have El Rey, Romero, Super Barú and Super 99. Each of the stores stock slightly different from each other and it is sometimes necessary to visit two or more of the stores to get everything you want or need.

    El Rey and Romero are owned by the same people. The I.D. tags the employees wear around their necks say “Grupo Rey” at the bottom edge. The Rey at the Plaza Teronnal in David is as new and modern as the Publix chain I used to shop at in Florida. The Romero in the San Mateo neighborhood in David used to be kind of dingy until they had a bad fire last year. The renovated store gives El Rey a run for its money, and they recently opened a brand new Romero in La Concepcion which is a nice store. But the pricing at the two stores remains a bit of a mystery. For instance, a bag of my favorite coffee costs 60 cents more at Romero than at El Rey. A month or so ago I went to check out the Romero in Concepcion and took along an El Rey receipt. Some of the Romero prices were higher than Rey’s and others were lower, so I guess a visit to either one would pretty much even out.

    Barú (Chircano como tu) is the smallest of the four markets.It also stocks a lot of things you won’t find at any of the others. I rarely go to the Super 99 which is only a couple of blocks away from the San Mateo Romero, and it has the worst selection of goods of any of the markets out here.

    In all cases gringos will find a lot of imported foods they’re used to buying back in the States, but at much higher prices than one is used to spending on them “back home.” Most of the time there is a local equivalent right near buy that is a lot less expensive. While I generally buy the local wares some things just can’t be substituted. For instance, NOBODY makes peanut butter better than Jiff or Skippy so I take the hit.

    One thing I’ve learned about shopping here is: If you see something on the shelf that you MIGHT want you’d better buy it NOW because there’s an excellent chance it WON’T be on the shelf when you DO need it. Also, if there are three of anything you need, take two of them because the same rule as above applies. It probably won’t be on the shelf the next time you visit.

  2. Hi Richard:

    I’ve experienced the problem of products disappearing from the shelves from one week to the other. Sometimes I’ll decide to postpone the purchase of a product for a week or so; when I return the product is gone. Happened to me many times in several supermarket chains.

    Take Care,


  3. Believe it or not, I go through the “disappearing item act” myself. Here, it’s a problem of computerized stocking. If an item I like and buy regularly isn’t selling across the district (or whatever geographical division they use) it goes off all the shelves. Then, I have to start prowling different stores to see if I can find what I want.

    Ironically, that’s meant that the local store, an independent with only two locations, often is my choice. The prices are higher, but they always have everything I want, and it’s probably a wash, since I don’t have to spend money on gas driving from one store to another.

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