St. Petersburg

The vast majority of Russians are, by economic necessity, not big consumers. In fact, official figures suggest that only 10% of Russians earn more than $1,000 a month. You probably wouldn't realize this on a walk down Nevsky prospekt, lined with shops and, most noticeably, the city's big department stores and shopping arcades.
The vast majority of Russians are, by economic necessity, not big consumers. In fact, official figures suggest that only 10% of Russians earn more than $1,000 a month. You probably wouldn't realize this on a walk down Nevsky prospekt, lined with shops and, most noticea
The vast majority of Russians are, by economic necessity, not big consumers. In fact, official figures suggest that onl

The vast majority of Russians are, by economic necessity, not big consumers. In fact, official figures suggest that only 10% of Russians earn more than $1,000 a month. You probably wouldn't realize this on a walk down Nevsky prospekt, lined with shops and, most noticeably, the city's big department stores and shopping arcades. While not all the goods are of the quality you might find in the big stores in New York or other European cities, plenty of jewelry, high fashion, and other luxury goods fill the shelves of shops that cater to those with the means to afford them.

For a distinctly Russian experience, try to seek out the fashion designs of Tatyana Parfinova, Sultanna Frantsuzova, Leonid Alexeev, and Larissa Pogoretskaya. Especially appealing to Westerners are typical Russian handicrafts, such as gzhel (blue-and-white and majolica pottery), shiny khokhloma tablewood (wood painted with flowery ornaments and imitation gilding), zhostovo metal trays (painted with elaborate enamel designs), and electric samovars—you'll find them in all the shops catering to tourists.

There are several things to keep in mind when shopping in St. Petersburg. For one, except for the Russian designers mentioned above, this isn't the place to stock up on fashion pieces. People tend to dress conservatively in St. Petersburg, often in plain dark clothes. Fashion as a means of self-expression hardly exists here yet except among the very young. When it comes to buying clothes, practical considerations hold sway, and that can make for a range of colors that doesn't go much beyond black, white, or gray. Also, most Western fashion brands sell for more than you'd expect to pay elsewhere in Europe and in the United States.

Don't be surprised by the number of supermarkets, pharmacies, and other stores that are now open 24 hours, seven days a week—they're fairly reliable and have emerged because of the hectic lives Russians lead.

If you want to take presents home, some of the best buys include fine porcelain, carved wooden goods such as toy soldiers or chess sets, and Russian-made silverware and linen. More than the goods on offer, one of the great delights of shopping St. Petersburg is the surroundings in which you'll find yourself, including 18th- and 19th-century shopping arcades, art-nouveau interiors, colorful food markets, and the other evocative settings of this romantically historic city.

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  • 1. Ananov

    Petrograd Side | Jewelry/Accessories

    Head and shoulders above other jewellery shops in town, this quiet, dimly lit store is owned by former sailor and theater director Andrei Ananov...Read More

  • 2. Apraksin Dvor

    City Center | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    St. Petersburg's less wealthy citizens come to this seething bazaar to shop for cheap clothes, shoes, DVDs, household items, and whatever else...Read More

  • 3. Armeisky Magazin

    City Center | Crafts

    Army surplus—belts, flasks, caps, pins, and marine shirts with Russian and Soviet army symbols—is a much better bargain here, at this state...Read More

  • 4. DLT TSUM

    City Center | Department Stores

    What was once a dusty Soviet relic has emerged as one of the most glamorous department stores in all of St. Petersburg. With a focus on high...Read More

  • 5. Galereya Steklo

    City Center | Crafts

    At this glass gallery, the city of St. Petersburg is reflected in carved Easter eggs, stained glass, vases, and candlesticks. Each work is handmade...Read More

  • 6. Galeria

    City Center | Department Stores

    Containing 290 shops, this mammoth shopping center also has 24 cafés and restaurants, a 10-cinema multiplex including an IMAX screen, a supermarket...Read More

  • 7. Gastronom 811

    City Center | Food/Candy

    This mini-supermarket is open 24 hours a day and sells the basics for a light lunch or breakfast, including a few fresh fruits and vegetables...Read More

  • 8. Gostiny Dvor

    City Center | Department Stores

    The city's oldest and largest shopping center was built in the mid-18th century. It has a few upscale boutiques and is also a good place to...Read More

  • 9. Grand Palace

    City Center | Department Stores

    Reigning at the top end of the boutique market and serving shoppers with the deepest pockets, this temple to consumption carries Woolford lingerie...Read More

  • 10. Guild of Masters

    City Center | Crafts

    Jewelry, ceramics, and other types of Russian traditional art, all made by members of the Russian Union of Artists, are sold here. They can...Read More

  • 11. Imperial Porcelain Manufactory

    Southern Suburbs | Crafts

    One of the most famous porcelain manufacturers in Russia, this factory was founded in St. Petersburg in 1744 to serve the imperial family. You...Read More

  • 12. Kuznechny Rynok

    Vladimirskaya | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    This is the best and most expensive of St. Petersburg's food markets and one of the best places to find caviar, fresh dairy products, and an...Read More

  • 13. Land Supermarket

    City Center | Food/Candy

    Hidden away on the lower level of Vladimirsky Passazh, this spacious well-stocked supermarket is open 24 hours a day and offers a wide selection...Read More

  • 14. Nado Zhe

    City Center | Gifts/Souvenirs

    This artist-run collective offers some of the city's most unique souvenirs, from nostalgic Soviet kitsch to modern felt handbags in unusual...Read More

  • 15. Otkryty Mir

    City Center | Music Stores

    For a city that prides itself on its cultural legacy the selection of classical music on offer is surprisingly poor. While no one could accuse...Read More

  • 16. Passazh

    City Center | Department Stores

    Across the street from Gostiny Dvor, this mid-19th-century shopping arcade caters primarily to locals. The souvenir sections, however, are worth...Read More

  • 17. Petersburg Antiques Salon

    City Center | Antiques/Collectibles

    This shop stocks icons, Carl Fabergé jewelry, furniture, and vintage lamps. There is also Soviet propaganda porcelain, such as ashtrays in the...Read More

  • 18. Phonoteca

    City Center | Music Stores

    This shop sells an eclectic selection of music and DVDs that tends toward the esoteric but still manages to cover most genres. Prices are good...Read More

  • 19. Polyustrovsky Rynok

    Vyborg Side | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    On the weekend you can find a pet market, with puppies, kittens, chickens, and more. In a possibly surprising twist, the market also boasts...Read More

  • 20. Rot Front Furs

    Vasilievsky Island | Clothing

    At the large factory shop of this established and respected Russian furrier, founded in 1885, you can get elegant coats, hats, jackets, wraps...Read More

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