Relevance of spaza shops in modern day South Africa

The constant infrastructure growth and improvements within townships has resulted in a penetration increase of big retailers entering the township consumer market landscape. They are making their products and services even more accessible and even cheaper than the local spaza shop.

Does this mean the era of the spaza shop as we know it is soon to come to an end? Do consumers still buy at spaza shops? And if so, what do they buy?

Spaza shops: The convenience store of the township.
Big retail companies still have limited shopping hours, with most shops in malls already closed by 6pm. Security is a concern to the shop owners which will have a direct impact on shops, as it results in early closure. However, Spaza shops tend to stay open longer and are therefore regarded as more convenient than the big retailers.

Accessibility isn’t really accessibility.
Retailers have become more accessible in townships; however they could never be close enough. In most cases people still have to take a taxi to the township mall or shopping centre in order to buy their groceries. On the other hand, there is a spaza shop on almost every street or block in the township – just a walk away from one’s house, which makes the spaza shop much more accessible and convenient than the mall.

It takes too much effort to make a trip to the mall.
Not having to clean up (dress up, shower and get hair done etc.), but instead, just walk down the road in your house shoes to buy what you need, is also a big consideration when deciding where to buy goods.

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About the author

Founder and Trend Analyst at TrendER Insights. Mogorosi's passion lies in unearthing consumer insights that will help brands build more meaningful relationships with their consumers. Email: