Shopping in Zimbabwe
Whether you choose to shop in the large, glitzy stores or the vibrant open-air markets, shopping in Zimbabwe will be a feast for your senses. Shops in Zimbabwe open at around 8 am through the week from Monday to Friday and remain closed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Ideal souvenirs of your trip may include jewellery made of locally mined gemstones and beautifully crafted copper products.
Some interesting buys in Zimbabwe include wooden, soapstone or copper carvings, basketwork, leather products, pottery, basketwork and game-skin items.
Read our Zimbabwe Shopping Guide below and learn about the best deals and places to shop in Zimbabwe. If you get hungry whilst shopping, stop for a traditional meal in one of the tasty Zimbabwe restaurants. For further local shopping information, visit out Victoria Falls Shopping Guide.
Zimbabwe Shopping Guide
While in Harare or Bulawayo you can also pick up some beautifully decorated cloth or cushion covers, bed covers and table linen. African theme stores sell handicrafts of different types that make lovely gifts for friends and family back home.
You could watch local artists and artisans craft the most wondrous, colourful creations out of ceramic, papier mache and wood. Also pick up some candle stands, linen or the unusual animal-shaped lamps at these stalls.
The large market in Victoria Falls is called the Trading Post and offers immense variety. Goods bought here can be shipped abroad. Ask the shopkeepers if they can help with this - they usually have a tie-up with a shipping agent.
Some of the major shopping centres in the capital city of Harare include the Eastgate Centre, the Avondale Shopping Centre and Westgate Centre. Also worth visiting are Fife Avenue, Kamfinsa Shopping Centre at Greendale and Sam Levy's Village in Borrowdale.
Falls Craft village at Victoria Falls
A shopping area that is a sight in itself is the Falls Craft village at Victoria Falls. Here you will see 35 life-size creations depicting the six prominent ethnic groups of the country from the 19th century. Artefacts here are all original, so you can be sure you're seeing the real thing. Pick up a free brochure and guide that explains how people here used to live, the tools they used, as well as the crafts they practised. Towards the rear of the village is the artisans' working area, where you can see how wood and stone carvings are made.You can even pick up a piece or two from the shop attached.
For something a little unusual, why not get the resident witch doctor (called a n'anga) to throw some bones to tell your future? Linger a little longer until evening when traditional dance performances light up the venue. This will cost you around USD 30 but is well worth it. Pick up crafts and curios at the Elephant Walk Mall.
Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre
A little beyond town on a turn off from the Old Falls Road is the Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre. This is a great destination for the serious souvenir shopper and travellers will be spoilt for choice! Pick from woodwork, beadwork, pottery, baskets and handcrafted sculptures - all made locally. The pottery section here employs as many as 70 people, a far cry from its humble beginnings in 1963.
Not too far from here you will find the Bulawayo Home Industries Centre. This is the centre to buy cloth worked with exquisite embroidery, colourful batiks and hand-woven pieces, all made on site.
Harare itself has numerous shops, with something for all budgets. Just 15 minutes from the central section of Harare is the two storey Westgate Shopping Centre. Besides stores selling South African products there is plenty by way of entertainment here. You can catch a movie or grab a bite at a fast food restaurant and then head for some more retail therapy at the many clothing and accessory stores in the centre.
Close to the renowned Meikles Hotel is a glitzy shopping centre that retails high end shoes as well as computers. The Zimbabwe Tourism Association is also located in this centre.
Sam Levy's Village in Barrowdale in the suburban area of the city also stocks some good quality merchandise. Most suburbs of the city have their own major shopping centres, all of which offer a fair bit of variety.
The most genuinely local shopping experience, however, is best had at the open-air flea market in Mbare. Stroll around and watch the locals sell their wares - you get everything from food to baskets and clothing here. It is also a good place to pick up something to remember your trip by - perhaps a piece of art or some local craftwork like a sculpture made of wood or stone, or a colourful hand woven basket. For the completely radical, a bottle of love potion might go down well.
Shops are usually open from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 5 pm. On Saturdays they work half days and close by 1 pm. A 10 - 22 % sales tax is slapped onto anything you buy, with higher rates applying for luxury products.