Australia is still lacking any examples of a European-style hypermarket. The closest option is a discount department store called Big W, but it is almost impossible to complete a grocery shop here.
All supermarkets offer fresh produce and groceries, as well as basic home items like cookware, cleaning supplies, and cutlery. The larger ones will also offer small appliances at very reasonable prices (kettles, toasters, alarm clocks etc). Most stores have limited selections of foods from China, India, African and European countries. The slightly more unfamiliar of these will be in an ‘ethnic food’ section, but gone are the days when a Water Chestnut was unknown.
Relatively new to Australia, German budget chain Aldi will be recognizable to residents of certain European countries. Along with very reasonably priced groceries and produce, Aldi sells major appliances, clothes, tools and other items on a rotating basis (you never know what they will be selling from week-to-week, so look out for flyers that will be dropped in your letter box, or check their website). http://www.aldi.com.au/
COLES / SAFEWAY* / WOOLWORTHS
The three most common supermarkets (Safeway, Coles and Woolworths) can be found in the CBD as well as in the suburbs. The further out from the city you travel, the larger these tend to be, and on the extreme borders of the city sprawl these supermarkets are beginning to resemble hypermarkets. While these supermarkets are generally on par for price, its worth noting that they all have a tendency to drop their prices in less affluent areas (such as the Western Suburbs) and raise them in more exclusive suburbs (such as Toorak). A drive over the West Gate Bridge to a Coles or Safeway in a less affluent neighbourhood can save you 20 per cent on the same grocery list from a Coles or Safeway in your eastern suburb.
Safeway and Coles offer all their customers the service of shopping online. For a small charge, both businesses will deliver goods to your door on a scheduled delivery day.
Woolworths / Safeway: http://www.woolworths.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/webSite/Woolworths/
*Safeway and Woolworths are essentially the same chain, owned by the same parent company, but with different branding. Safeways seem to only exist in the Melbourne area, but both stores share pricing, specials and coupons.
IGA (the Independent Grocer’s Association) stores are not chains exactly, but a conglomeration of independent shop keepers. Ranging in size from incredibly small corner shops to larger, supermarket sized outlets, the variety and quality of goods and food found in these shops can vary greatly. http://www.iga.net.au/
Recently opened in Docklands (their only location so far in Australia), American bulk buy super store Costco has gained a lot of traction in only a few short months. While membership fees apply, if you buy in bulk frequently (who doesn’t need 2 kilos of mayonnaise?) you’ll quickly save enough to recover your initial investment. With a full scale butcher shop and bakery on premises, in addition to economy sized quantities of pre-packaged food, Costco also sells consumer electronics, jewelery, clothing, books, and outdoor furniture. http://www.costco.com.au