A Visit to a Supermarket in Panama


This is the  El Xtra Supermarket where we buy our groceries every two weeks when we receive our Social Security paychecks.  It’s about a five-minute drive from our house.

My wife is the woman with the light blue blouse on the left of the picture.  The young woman with the red sweater is an “empacadora” (packer).  Every supermarket has packers who help place the merchandise onto carts and then takes them to the customers’ automobiles in the parking lots.

The packers are informal workers who work in supermarkets in an effort to rake in a few bucks a day through tips from customers.  They are not regular employees of the supermarkets.  Usually, they are students or people with a low-level education.  The tips they receive vary between $1.00-$2.00 per customer.  We pay $1.00.  I wish we could pay more, but our budget is quite tight.


Good Day!


2 thoughts on “A Visit to a Supermarket in Panama”

  1. Hola Omar,
    We call them baggers here.
    In some stores they take your cart to the car, others stores they are not allowed. And here they are on payroll with the store which sometimes allows tips, some stores won’t allow them to have tips.
    Since all the stores have plenty of shopping carts, most shoppers push their own carts to the car and put the empty carts in a nearby “corral” where workers push them back to the store. At stores like Walmart, collecting the carts requires machine muscle, called cart mules. Here’s a photo of that operation.


  2. Pricesmart, previously known as PriceCosco does not have baggers at all. The carts are pushed by the customers to the parking lots and placed on special deposits as you have described. All the rest of the supermarkets have voluntary baggers working on a tip basis.

    I can see that we are very similar in many ways to the States. Even the carts are exactly the same as the ones in your picture. They are red as well.

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