South Africans love shopping, and tend to do it in huge shopping centres rather than in shopping streets. The Gateway Mall in Durban is reputedly the largest in the southern hemisphere. However, areas where shops and restaurants spill out onto the streets are becoming increasingly popular as both daytime and evening venues.
Johannesburg has three popular weekend markets that have sprung up as part of the city centre’s rejuvenation plans: 44 Stanley, Arts on Main and the Neighbourgoods Market. Cape Town’s V&A centre at the Waterfront is a tourist-friendly combination of shopping and entertainment with bars, music, restaurants and cinemas, as well a large arts and craft shed. Traditional African arts and crafts are sold in numerous craft markets including Johannesburg's Rosebank Mall craft market. The intricate beadwork necklaces and bold wooden carvings including large masks are particularly attractive, and six foot tall giraffes are often being wrapped for safe transit home in the cargo hold.
Impromptu craft stalls often appear at the side of the road, particularly on popular tourist routes, and some have become permanent attractions in their own right, such as the one between Johannesburg and Sun City. Haggling is perfectly acceptable and often expected in the craft markets.
Gold, diamonds and local wine also make excellent buys. In general, visitors will find the exchange rate favourable and prices much easier on the pocket than in many other countries.
Visitors can claim a 14% VAT refund on purchases worth more than R250. You need to show your passport, flight ticket, the items and invoices to the refund desk in airports.