Shopping in Johannesburg

Johannesburg's grocery stores offer a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables Expats will find that grocery shopping in Johannesburg is similar to that of any Western country. South Africa has several large supermarket chains and a number of smaller specialty stores, and all types of shops are present in Joburg. As in all locations, where expats end up going will depend on their personal tastes and budget, but the nice thing is that there will be a store conveniently located close to where they live.

Furthermore, shelves will be stocked with many of the goods familiar from home, with the addition of a few strange new favourites. For a taste of true South Africa, try Mrs Balls Chutney, snack on a bit of biltong or load the shopping cart with Chock-its, Salticrax, or Ouma Rusks.

Otherwise, for the most part, grocery stores in South Africa claim an impressive meat and poultry selection, a massive assortment of dry and canned goods, and a healthy variety of fruit and vegetables. That said, the fish department can be surprisingly lacking given the country's prolific coastlines, and the deli section can be disappointing. Halaal products are available in most of the grocery stores. 

Grocery stores in South Africa sell wine, but do not sell spirits or beer. However, many of the larger chain stores will have subsidiary stores selling all types of alcohol next door to their main shop.

Additionally, select chains accept utility payments, sell electricity and sell airtime for both mobile telephones and landline telephones, and even have on-site post offices or ticket box offices.

For those who have engrained the art of penny-pinching into every aspect of life, Woolworths and Pick 'n Pay have introduced rewards card programmes that entitle shoppers to lower costs or small discounts on price.

Nationwide grocery stores in Johannesburg

  • Woolworths – A little pricey but also the best quality food by far, not only within South Africa but worldwide; well-known especially for its fresh produce and good meat. It’s hard to go back to anything else after shopping at “Woolies".
  • Spar – Similar price range to Woolworths but not always the same quality; larger selection, especially at Superspar centres, with many imported brands and a nice deli with freshly cooked meals; good European bread selection.
  • Pick 'n Pay – Similar selection to Spar (minus the imported brands) but lower prices; a good place to stock up on basics like packaged goods and cleaning supplies. Pick 'n Pay also has an online shopping service where groceries can be delivered to one's home for a small fee.
  • Checkers – Same price range as Pick ‘n Pay, with wide selection of household goods at Checkers Hyper.

Specialty stores in Johannesburg

  • Food Lover's Market (Fruit and Veg City) – A chain of upscale fresh food stores throughout South Africa.
  • Local butcheries – South Africans take their meat very seriously and the proof is in its wealth of excellent, privately owned butcheries such as Schwaben Butchery in Edenvale,  a veritable heaven for any German or Austrian expat, Sloane Meat Market in Bryanston and Berliner Butchery in Deco Park.


Discount markets in Johannesburg 

  • Makro – Owned by Walmart, it has a similar set-up to Sam's Club. Although it mostly sells bulk items, it doesn't offer the significant discounts expats might have come to expect from a similar store in their home country.
  • Game – Selling just about everything an expat could need, Games' can be found throughout Johannesburg, and tend to offer lower prices than other stores. 

Pharmacies in Johannesburg

  • Dis-Chem – The largest and most well-stocked South African pharmacy. If an item can't be found anywhere else, chances are it’s sold at Dis-Chem; it stocks everything from electric toothbrushes to fish-oil vitamins. It also has the largest availability and reasonable pricing for prescription drugs, although the lines can be long.
  • Clicks – Can be found in almost every shopping centre and often next to doctor’s offices, very convenient for prescription drugs, but is more expensive than other pharmacies.