Shopping. Malls, brands, shopping streets
A few years ago, Belarusians went shopping en masse to neighboring Vilnius or Warsaw. Now all this is redundant: several large shopping malls have emerged in Minsk, H&M and Inditex group brands have come, Lamoda and Wildberries online services are up and running. However, there are virtually no luxury brands in Minsk.
The very downtown (21 Independence Ave.) is the address of GUM; TsUM is located a little further (54 Independence Ave.). But these are not the same as in Moscow or Kiev. Minsk department stores have largely gone unchanged since the Soviet times—not only their interior (it’s even an upside in the case of GUM), but also the range of offered goods. Many Belarusian brands are represented—not designer ones though, but those by large manufacturers. However, there is a place for Chinese, Russian and some European goods. But department stores such as GUM, TsUM, “On Nemiga Street” shopping center (10 Nemiga Str.) and “Belarus” department store (4 Zhilunovich Str.) you can find everything, from a refrigerator to toilet paper: a fur coat, vodka, souvenir, shoelaces, cosmetics, a garden gnome. These stores regularly announce great discounts of up to 20–30% or more on all goods.
Didn’t plan on shopping? Still, you may wish to check out GUM (other department stores do not boast the interior as striking) to take a close look on the majestic Soviet architecture and decor.
“Stolitsa” mall lives its quiet underground life one subway station away from GUM. This is the place only for hopelessly lost tourists, folks who are freezing or cannot google at all.
The most recent and popular are Dana Mall and Galleria Minsk. All the top brands are to be found at these specific malls: Zara and Zara Home, Mac, Massimo Dutti, H&M, Oysho, Mango, Nyx, “Perfumist”—selective perfumery shop and many others.
A list of the most popular malls:
- Dana Mall (11, P. Mstistlavets Str.)
- Galleria Minsk (9 Pobediteley Ave.)
- Galileo (6 Bobruiskaya Str.)
- Green (156 Prytytskyi Str.)
- Metropol (5 Nemiga Str.)
- Arena City (84 Pobediteley Ave.)
- Zamok (65 Pobediteley Ave.)
Back in the day, everyone would order clothes and shoes on Asos. But Belarus applies a duty (as of December 2019) on all parcels with value over €22, so the number of orders from abroad has gone down. So, those wishing to avoid extra charges either have parcels delivered to the address of foreign friends and wait until they bring them to Minsk or agree with private sellers on Ebay, for example, to have the parcel’s cost specified in the documents under €22.
Lamoda.by and Wildberries.by services operate in Belarus; they deliver clothes to try on and take away everything that didn’t fit.
There are many of these in Minsk—do not expect Parisian vintage and super-finds from them, though. Yes, sometimes you can pick up something exceptional, but for this you will have to quit your job and stand guard by the store entrance before it opens on the delivery day. Most often, local secondhand stores offer clean, unpretentious, cheapest mass market clothing. There are second-hand stores in every neighborhood, but the bulk of them are concentrated in the Komarovka Market area: two “Moda Max” outlets, “Adzenne,” “Elegant” and other stores.
Large hypermarkets (Green, Korona, Vitalur, ProStore) are normally located in neighborhoods. If you are a downtown resident, you will have to settle for the “Tsentralny” store and small “Evroopts” and “Sosedi” outlets. All store chains in Minsk compete with each other: promo campaigns, loyalty cards, sweepstakes to win apartments and household appliances.
Minsk residents often scold one chain for the lack of good products and praise another, but give or take, all hypermarkets are generally the same—except that Green is currently in the lead for positive reviews.
Fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy products, nuts and other foodstuffs are available at the Komarovka Market. It is closed Mondays, but on any other day you can get cheaper and better products than in supermarkets.
If you start craving for water (wine) or bread (cigarettes) in the middle of the night in Minsk, you’re in for a bit of a tough time. In a city as huge as Minsk (let us remind you, it ranks 10th in Europe by population), 24/7 stores are still a rarity.