Men wearing face mask picking shopping cart in sup
  • Before lockdown, South Africans drivers did most of their grocery shopping after after work.
  • This changed in recent months, and now most grocery shopping happen around the midday hours.
  • South Africans have also changed which malls they visited.
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An analysis of vehicle movements in South Africa shows a big change in when and where locals do their shopping.

The study by the vehicle recovery company Netstar and the geospatial intelligence group Geo Intelligence, done over recent months, shows that before lockdown most shopping was done during the evening, when people were returning from work.

At the start of the national lockdown, vehicle traffic was down 90% and few people were out shopping.

By Level 4 of the national lockdown, drivers were doing most of their shopping closer to the noon hours. This trend persisted into Level 3, despite curfews and restrictions on businesses being lifted.

The busiest times at grocery stores are now between 10:00 and midday in most provinces. There’s a steep drop-off in driving to stores after 16:00.

Peak shopping times across provinces:

Eastern Cape and North West: noon to 14:00

Free State: 10:00 to noon and 14:00 – 16:00

Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Western Cape:  10:00 to noon

Northern Cape: 08:00 to 10:00

“With more remote work, and fewer commutes, it appears that shopping is becoming the focal point of the day for some people, instead of an errand to be squeezed in after work,” said Netstar managing director Pierre Bruwer.  

They are also shopping closer to home. Since the start of the lockdown at the end of March, retail activity shifted to shopping centres near residential areas, instead of “destination” shopping malls and city centres.

 “Smaller-format stores appear to have become busier, perhaps due to shoppers avoiding crowds at large stores due to concerns around the pandemic. It may also be a sign of caution and restraint due to personal economic concerns.”

Netstar reports that June showed a slower increase in the number of trips to retail stores, and that July could be even slower. “This is possibly a sign of people returning to normal buying but could also be a sign of caution and restraint due to personal economic concerns.”

”However with the increase in the Covid numbers and a growing concern amongst citizens, there may be a return to some panic buying and self-imposed lockdown.”

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