Most supermarkets open from 8.00 am to 6.00 or 7.00 pm during weekdays and from 8.00 – 1.00pm over weekends. For forgotten or emergency items, local garage stores are open 24 hours and sell items such as milk, bread, newspapers, cigarettes, etc. The Friendly Grocer and Spar Superette stores typically keep longer shopping hours (vary by area) and offer a slightly wider variety than the garage stores. Some also sell wine, but no other liquor. Beer and hard liquor are only sold in Liquor (Bottle) Stores.
Since it is advisable not to carry around large amounts of cash on you, we suggest you make purchases using credit or bank debit cards. All major international credit cards are accepted and retailers are far happier to accept credit cards than cheques (checks), which they are wary of. If they do accept a cheque, you will be required to provide identification and personal contact details – in addition retailers often go through a credit verification process with your bank which is time consuming and annoying.
There are large shopping malls in most of South Africa's towns and suburbs which offer convenient, secure parking, major chain stores, exclusive boutiques, restaurants, multiplex movie and entertainment centres. The larger malls are generally in the main town's and cities.
The major chain supermarkets are Pick ‘n Pay, Spar, Checkers/Checkers Hyper and Woolworth’s (the South African equivalent of Marks & Spencer) including their up-market food-halls. The newer Spar's and Woolworth’s offer a wide selection of pre-cooked meals and a variety of pre-prepared salads, sushi, soups, marinated kebabs, etc.
South Africa has a large number od specialist grocery stores dotted in the various centre's throughout the country, all of which have a wide range of excellent local and imported foodstuffs.