Growing Number Of Malls Highlight Changing African Shopping Experience

Growing Number Of Malls Highlight Changing African Shopping Experience

From Financial Times via BDLive

At the entrance to the Shoprite supermarket in downtown Lusaka, women wrestle with shopping trolleys. It is the end of the month and salaries have been paid: the women have bought nappies, rice, sugar and sacks of maize meal half the weight of a bag of cement.

In front of the main doors, young men stand in the hot sun selling tomatoes and onions. On the street, makeshift stalls tout plastic-weave shopping bags, cellophane-wrapped Bibles, pens and herbal potions.

It is, in miniature, a scene typical of the street-side bustle that has long been the African shopping experience. The supermarket, however, is a newer phenomenon. Serene, air-conditioned and well stocked, it is an experience urban Africans are becoming increasingly accustomed to as South African retailers advance north.

The trend is being felt from Lagos to Luanda, Maputo to Kampala, and it is radically altering the shopping habits of the growing middle-class. Where the supermarkets have led, other international brands have followed: from Barclays to KFC and Nando’s.

McKinsey forecasts that Africa’s consumer industries will grow by more than $400bn by 2020. All want the same thing — to tap into the aspirations of a new generation.

Before supermarkets arrived in Lusaka, Anga Kasanda, an account assistant, did her shopping at the sprawling open-air Soweto market. Packed with people and ripe vegetables, the place is full of sweat, noise and dust. Now she rarely goes.

In the Shoprite on Cairo Road, one of Lusaka’s main highways, Kasanda browses shelves of Italian (rather than Egyptian) pasta.

“Every location you go, there’s malls…. I can say that’s development. It’s changed the perspective of people,” she says.

For her, it’s the basics that have made a difference: being able to get hold of electrical appliances such as a steam iron, and being able to do an entire shop under one roof.

For millions of Africans, following a decade of strong economic growth, it is these seemingly mundane things that have helped to raise living standards.

Read more at BDLive