St Petersburg’s shopping scene may lag behind Moscow’s glitzy capitalist paradise, but it’s a massive improvement on the past, with something for everyone hidden in an ever-increasing array of new shops and malls. If matryoshka (nesting dolls) aren't your thing, you can enliven your souvenir shopping with pieces of Soviet chic, antiques, street fashion and contemporary arts and crafts.
The city heaves with shops and stalls selling that most archetypal souvenir of Russia, the matryoshka (nesting dolls). Other traditional souvenirs include amber jewellery, painted wooden eggs, vodka, Russian chocolates and porcelain, the last of which is available from one of Imperial Porcelain's many St Petersburg outlets.
Shopping Centres & Creative Clusters
Two modern palaces to consumerism flank pl Vosstaniya, right in the heart of the city. The sheer size of Galeria is something to behold, and with its international designer names as well as local brands it’s definitely the easiest one-stop shop for retail therapy in St Petersburg. Nearby Nevsky Centre is smaller, but equally impressive, and houses a large branch of the Finnish department store Stockmann. At the heart of Nevsky pr Bolshoy Gostiny Dvor, the 18th century forerunner of a mall, is still going strong and worth a browse.
Following in the successful retail footsteps of Loft Project ETAGI and Taiga there has been a rash of similar creative clusters opening up across the city including Golitsyn Loft, Berthold Center and Artmuza. Young entrepreneurs are setting up mainly fashion, accessories and home decor boutiques at these places – all well worth a look.
There’s a small but enterprising fashion industry in St Petersburg with a few local designers blazing the trail and selling classy and creative clothing collections to locals interested in expanding their wardrobes beyond the usual international brands. St Petersburg Fashion Week (http://spbfashionweek.com) in October features local designers including Lilya Kissilenko, Natalya Soldatova and Tatyana Sulimina, all of whom have boutiques in the city.
Secondhand & Vintage
Sekond-khand (Сэконд-хэнд) is all the rage in St Petersburg, with fabrics and designs from the Soviet era now being very fashionable among the younger generations. Soviet chic is so in that it goes way beyond clothing – accessories, music, art and (let’s face it) a lot of plain junk is on sale all over the city, simply because it’s from that era. If you’re into Soviet bric-a-brac, then head to Udelnaya Fair on a Sunday for a truly mind-blowing array of Soviet trash and the odd real treasure.
Need to Know
Shop hours vary, but most open seven days a week and typically from 10am to 9pm, sometimes to as late as 10pm.
It's pretty common for all shops to take major credit cards and you're seldom far from an ATM if that's not the case.
It's the glamorous face of Russian shopping, but the environmentally conscious steer clear of black caviar: overfishing in the Caspian Sea has reached crisis levels and the international trade of wild-sturgeon caviar has been banned since 2006. There is, however, one stall in Bolshoy Gostiny Dvor specialising in farmed caviar.