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Last updated : Nov 2009
Cape Town Shopping
Cape Town Shopping Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Mainly thanks to the brilliant exchange rate, shopping is a popular pastime for visitors to Cape Town. The city has embraced American mall culture, and the majority of shopping precincts in Cape Town have been decentralised to suburban shopping malls, with 100's of shops under 1 roof. The most remarkable malls are the Victoria Wharf at the V&A Waterfront, Tyger Valley in the Northern Suburbs, Cavendish Square in Claremont, and Canal Walk at Century City.

However, there are still smaller shops to be found, all offering numerous bargains. There are also many markets, mostly informal, that continue to flourish in the city centre and along main roads in the suburban areas. While shopping malls are generally open 9.00 am to 9.00 pm Monday to Saturday and even Sunday 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, central city hours are 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday and 8.30 am to 1.00 pm on Saturday. Muslim owned businesses close 12.00 pm to 1.00 pm on Friday.

Since the end of apartheid, Cape Town has grown to be a Mecca for traders from all over Africa and it is achievable to buy African art from all corners of the continent within a few city blocks. A sightseeing location in its own right, Greenmarket Square, Shortmarket Street, in the city centre, has a market that is open Monday to Saturday, stocking an assorted range of goods, including local jewellery, African art, handmade clothing, music, books and antiques.

The majority of the streets that fan out from Greenmarket Square are also filled with street traders offering African goods, while The Pan African Market, 76 Long Street, is an experience within itself. Wall to wall African art and curios is packed into the double storey labyrinth of shops, open Monday to Saturday. Tiny tin can sculptures sit alongside wooden behemoths of tribal masks, while hair braiders, leathersmiths, djembe drum tutors and West African tailors practice their crafts and an informal café offers refreshments.

For further arts, curios, clothing and crafts, the daily Waterfront Craft Market, situated in the Blue Shed at the V&A Waterfront, next to the Two Oceans Aquarium, is the perfect place for visitors to pick up a few trademark Capetonian gifts. The Green Point Fleamarket, which is outside Green Point Stadium, Somerset Road, is held every Sunday and public holidays and is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, boasting numerous stalls selling anything from African art and antiques to fake international labels. However, pickpockets like this area even more than bargain hunters do, therefore it is recommended to be cautious.

A fantastic lightweight gift that is truly indicative of Cape Town is wire sculpture, from as little as R 10 for a wire daisy to R 600 for a replica African hut. Streetwires, 77/79 Shortmarket Street, is a scheme to empower unemployed South Africans and supplies several creative contemporary wire and bead products, which can be made to order. For a tasty South African specialty, biltong (dried raw meat) is available in nearly every shopping market throughout the city. Visitors should observe, however, that importing biltong might be illegal in some countries. A far safer exportable gift is wine, which is accessible en route on a Winelands tour for as little as R 20 a bottle. Other South African specialties include hand stitched ostrich leather, Rooibos tea and African rubber sandals.

The Montebello Design Centre, 31 Newlands Avenue, has brilliant ethnic crafts for sale as well as a charming tearoom, while African Image, Shop 6228 Table Bay Mall, V&A Waterfront, specialises in authentic African tribal art and artefacts, a dream for collectors. Antique lovers should explore Church Street and the section of Long Street just off Church Street. Also in Long Street, the fashion fanatic will be spellbound by the incredible offerings on show at Yin, 224a Long Street, a diverse boutique that specialises in clothes designed and handmade by women from various African communities and countries. A varied collection of African music can be listened to and purchased at The African Music Store, 90 Long Street.

VAT stands at 14 % on all goods sold in Cape Town, however this is largely ignored in the markets. Visitors can reclaim VAT upon departure for purchases over R 250, given that all receipts have been kept, the appropriate tax invoices have been acquired and filled in where necessary, and the goods are exported within 90 days of purchase. These, along with the goods, must be shown to the VAT Refund Administrator at the airport international departures terminal. A refund is then paid after passing through Passport Control. The VAT Refund Office is situated at the Cape Town Tourism Centre provides further information and helps with the necessary paperwork beforehand:

Cape Town Tourism Centre
Address: First Level, Clock Tower Centre, V&A Waterfront
Telephone: (021) 405 4545
Facsimile: (021) 405 4587
Email address: info@taxrefunds.co.za
Website address: www.taxrefunds.co.za