Shopping @ Mustafa Centre

Mustafa Centre in the Little India area of Singapore is the largest super market in Singapore which is open 24 x 7 all through the year, offering almost everything that you might be looking for.

But, it is not the most desirable shopping experience that one would look for. It is not the fault of Mustafa, it is more the pressing issue of crowding which has long been a trademark of Little India (also called Serangoon area). Tourists of all types throng the area for its historical importance, its temples, its great restaurants offering a variety of Indian fare, and of course, for Mustafa shopping. Mustafa is always crowded, whatever be the time of the day, or whatever day it is. I avoid going there during the weekends which have always been very stressful.

First, you have to find a parking space. The Mustafa parking is always full, so one needs to find a designated paid parking lot on the Syed Alwi Road, or one of the parallel roads. Or, one has to park at the City Square Shopping Mall and walk to Mustafa, but then it will be tough to carry the things you bought in the hot sun back to the Mall. The best way is to take a cab and get dropped right in front of the Mustafa Centre, but the Singapore residents who drive a car, almost always try to roam around the adjoining roads to find an empty parking lot.

Assuming you are able to find one and squeeze your car carefully into the lot, then you find your way to the nearest entrance of Mustafa Centre. It is a huge place, but I have been going there for a quarter century now (at least once a month), so I know exactly where to go to find the thing I need and then get out. For browsing tourists, it is going to be annoying with too many folks pushing their way around through narrow shopping aisles. And, there are just too many shopping assistants in Mustafa like in the past – nothing has changed on that count. Not that they are any more helpful – they mind their own stuff till you ask some question about a product. That is the way Mustafa operates – you go there once you have figured out what you wish to buy, which brand/what model, and then just pick that up. Not many questions should be on your mind – do all the product investigations elsewhere, like in those expensive malls dotting the island which have exclusive shops for various brands. Mustafa is not the place for trying to get explanation on which brand or model to buy.

There is surely some price variations between Mustafa and Orchard Road malls, Mustafa being generally cheaper for the same genuine goods – there are no fake products in Singapore for international brands anyway. Whatever little discount Mustafa gets, they seem to be passing on to the shoppers, so it is not unusual to get a 5 to 10% drop in price at Mustafa.

Nowadays, I am not shopping for white goods at Mustafa – for example, for upgrading my Fitbit Alta to Fitbit Versa (the latest model), I used the online shopping site, Lazada. It is more convenient, and I know that Mustafa is unlikely to have Fitbit. Even for protective screen for my iPhone, I used Lazada, which seems to be offering unbelievable deals.

However, for fresh fruits and vegetables, for plant nuts, for biscuits & chocolates of certain types, and for groceries of our preference, Mustafa still remains as the best choice. Since I consume fresh fruits and plant nuts in significant quantities, I go to Mustafa at least twice a month. Occasionally, I also pick up fruits in Fairprice Supermarket, so I balance out my needs. It goes without saying that Mustafa offers good prices for fruits – one simple comparison will be ink blue dark seedless grapes which cost SGD 3.50 for 500 gms in Mustafa, which is priced at SGD 4.95 at Fairprice and Cold Storage. Green Kiwi fruit is priced at SGD 3.50 for a pack of 5 at Mustafa, as against SGD3.45 for a pack of 4 in Fairprice or even more at Cold Storage. New Zealand Queen Apples (big size) is priced at SGD 0.90 per apple at Mustafa, and the same costs SGD 1.25 at Fairprice, and so on and so forth. It does not make sense to go through all the troubles of shopping at Mustafa unless you buy big quantities and have the storage at home to protect and preserve the perishables.

I go nuts just shopping for nuts at Mustafa. It is not exactly cheap, but the variety is amazing. Since I am using plant nuts as part of a diet program, I need to buy significant quantities of various nuts – almonds, pistachios, walnuts, macademia nuts, and sometimes hazel nuts, apart from sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I have not been able to get better prices online elsewhere in Singapore, though I know for sure the prices are much cheaper in the U.S. and in Australia.

My wife picks up Indian vegetables (imported from India) and mangoes (abundant during this season). She also uses the Chinese veggies in cooking, but the imported Indian veggies are not available in the major super markets – we have to come to Mustafa or go to one of the smaller shops in Serangoon.

For tourists, Mustafa visit is a must it appears – I see many of them with big shopping bags getting out of Mustafa and waiting for taxi. People of all kinds shop in Mustafa these days, as against mostly Indians some 20 years ago. The brand is very well established and the value proposition is very clear to one and all.

Enjoy your shopping, and have a good week ahead,


Vijay Srinivasan

18th June 2018

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