Pattaya Makro, with a principal cash and carry store on Sukhumvit Road in South Pattaya, is part of a huge trading empire in Thailand dating back to the formation of Siam Makro plc in 1988. There are now over 130 stores in Thailand with recent openings in India and Cambodia too. There is also a food-only branch in North Pattaya not under consideration here.
The company offers membership-based trade centres offering at most branches a range of food and non-food items at (usually) wholesale prices. 70 percent of customer expenditure is on food with the emphasis being on fresh fish sections, fresh meat and butchering, fruit and vegetables and refrigerated isles. The South Pattaya branch has a wine section, but it’s small and concentrates on the cheaper brands.
The non-food sections concentrate on electricals, kitchenware, food preparation utensils, furniture, office equipment and a huge selection of household items. The customer base in Thailand alone is 2.6 million and Siam Makro shares are traded on the Thai stock market. Makro products, of course, are aimed at retailers, hotels, restaurants, government agencies and professional business people in general. But, contrary to the belief of many, anyone can shop there although, without formal registration via a commercial organization, you won’t get the perks such as discounts and promotions.
It is certainly feasible to shop at Makro as an individual or family without indulging in mass bulk buying. It’s not a traditional supermarket so you might be in trouble trying to purchase a single bottle of HP sauce, but lots of items are available singly including a good selection of cheeses and dairy products. If you really must buy just one avocado you can, but why bother coming to Makro when umpteen local markets are set up for small purchases?
Regular business-orientated shoppers at Makro certainly save money in the long run. For the ordinary shopper, the attractions are more to do with variety. The small bread section is well worth trying and the French baguettes are amongst the best in town. And yes, they can be bought singly. We found the extensive fresh fish section and the frozen vegetables to be excellent value for money. The wine and the beer just ok. If you are feeding a large number of cats and dogs, the pet food section is a wonder to behold if you are into bulk buying.
Our visit coincided with a busy period and there were long queues at the small number of checkout counters which were operational. Given that some customers may have two fully loaded trolleys to be paid for, the waiting time can be 15 minutes or even longer if you are unlucky. Also, the customer in front of us insisted on using tokens for some purchases which led to a prolonged discussion at the checkout and referral to the supervisor. As end-users we would suggest the senior management takes another look at waiting times.
Recently, all Makro stores in Thailand in cooperation with the Australian embassy organized the “Taste of Australia” festival and held a special price promotion on the most popular Australian products such as beef, seafood, fruit and Aussie ingredients. You may not be able to visit Australia right now because of travel restrictions, but the next-best-thing was right here in Pattaya City.