Where Are the Holiday Shoppers?

by | Dec 21, 2010 | Johannesburg, Markets/Shopping | 9 comments

This afternoon we had to go to the mall to buy a ream of computer paper. (As everyone here knows, you can’t buy anything in South Africa without going to the mall.)

I was dreading it. Who in their right mind goes to a mall on December 21? In America, such a trip would involve driving in circles for 30 minutes looking for a parking spot and then fighting hordes of angry Christmas procrastinators.

Instead, we found this:

The Mall at Rosebank, 4:00 p.m., December 21.

Tyson’s Corner Center in Northern Virginia is never this empty, not even at 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in August.

What’s happening here? Is this normal for Christmas week in Johannesburg, or is the economy really as bad as everyone says? Or maybe everyone is buying their holiday gifts from hardworking street artists like Felix and Lovemore. I hope that’s it!

Speculation from experienced South African shoppers is welcome.

Check back for more Christmas Below the Equator posts as the week progresses.


  1. lisa@notesfromafrica

    All the Joburg shoppers are on holiday at the coast, filling up our malls! 🙂 Seriously. I am avoiding going to the local mall until the New Year.

  2. Linda

    When we lived there it was always busy at the malls, any time of year. I’ve never seen it that empty. Must be the recession; it’s similar here: we did our food shop yesterday and didn’t have to queue. I’ve never known anything like it.

  3. Slowvelder

    Yep – they are all in Plett – on the beach with their umbrellas. Also many South Africans leave their Christmas shopping till the 23 and 24th so it might fill up a little today.

  4. Francois

    LOL – You will probably never receive my comment – But I was once told by a Jewish girl, years ago that the best place to shop in Christmas is at Rosebank mall. As it is such a large Jewish community, most of them have no need to buy Christmas presents, and they avoid the mall, as they are concerned about non – jewish people going there in their hordes! Christmas shopping has never been easier for me since I discoverd this! Always go straight to Rosebank. Now if you want to see chaos, try Sandton City, Fourways Mall, Northgate or Clearwater mall. However, a lot of Johannesburg people leave for the coast around th 16th until the 2nd of January. Much like Paris in the summer 😉

    • 2summers

      I did receive your comment! Thank you for leaving it. And that makes good sense 🙂

      • Francois

        No problem 2summers – I just love your blog! Been spending the whole day reading through it! I am from Johannesburg, and I actually feel ashamed that I have not visited half the places you have. You have given me so many options, and my friends and I will definetly be visiting some of the places you mentioned. Especially downtown Johannesburg! 🙂

        • 2summers

          That’s wonderful to hear. Don’t feel ashamed — I was the same way when I lived in Washington DC. It’s easy to take your home city for granted.


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