Judging from the rate at which shopping malls are mushrooming in and around Kampala city, Kampalans have been forced to adopt new shopping cultures. Many have gone from doing their shopping at their local grocery stores to eating out at malls. Going to the movies or even late night shopping in 24 hour supermarkets has even become common.
Depending on where you live, everyone has a favorite mall in Kampala. Places where they love going, either to shop, eat or simply hang out. Expectations at each mall in Kampala are different as each is distinguished by the facilities it offers.
Pioneer Mall, located right in the heart of the city surrounded by Burton, Wilson and Johnson streets, boasts of being Uganda’s first mall, thus its name. In proportion to other shopping malls that have come up over the years in Kampala, it is now the smallest, but still consists of one restaurant, various boutiques, cosmetic shops and unisex salons.
To say that Garden City revolutionized the term ‘shopping mall’ in Kampala is an understatement. When Garden City shopping mall opened its doors to Kampalans in 2000 it had everything any shopper needed. A supermarket, a cinema, various banks and other service providers had branches there, restaurants, an escalator (let’s not forget that most Kampalans had never been on an escalator before in their lives).
Located along Yusuf Lule Road, Garden City today still boasts as a favorite shopping Centre for many Kampalans and source of entertainment. Up market boutiques like Sylvie’s Boutique, restaurants like New York Kitchen, Nawab and Ranchers, Simba Casino, a children’s play area, and various clothing stores abound., Cineplex Cinema, the food court, a fitness Centre with a pool, Uchumi Supermarket, a popular rooftop bar (Boda Boda), banks, the only bowling alley in Uganda (Alleygators),various cosmetics and jewellery stores, plus salons and spas can all be found under one roof. Garden City still pulls quite a crowd and it is quite busy on a daily basis and full on public holidays and New Year’s Eve when people go to celebrate and watch fireworks. One could say Garden City is arguably Kampala’s number one shopping mall and being a popular hangout and night spot, it is definitely worth paying a visit.
Right next door to Garden City shopping mall along Yusuf Lule Road is Nakumatt Oasis Mall. Not so big on the scale of Garden City, Nakumatt Oasis Mall boasts of Nakumatt Supermarket which opens 24/7 making it convenient for shoppers to shop at their convenience at any time of the day or night. It also consists of the newly opened and revamped Cinema (The Hub) although all movies are shown in two dimensions. It has various Cafes notably Café Javas, Ban Café and Mokka Terrace, all which is quite busy on a daily basis.
Capital Shoppers City Mall is Located in Ntinda. Quite small it consists of Capital Shoppers Supermarket, various boutiques and unisex salons, a bank (Centenary Bank), a shoe store (Bata) and restaurants. It is not so busy but if you live around the Ntinda area then it’s definitely worth a visit. It also consists of a washing bay, had ample parking and a popular bar at the top.
Along Entebbe road in Najjanankumbi is the newly opened Freedom City Mall. It is quite big but that said it’s practically empty on weekdays simply because so few people know that its there. It has various boutiques, banks, supermarket (Uchumi), a discotheque (O-Zone Discotheque) and a video gaming centre (Gamerz Dungeon). It is worth paying a visit if you live around Entebbe road, Kabowa, Namasuba, Najjanankumbi, Ndeeba, Nyanama, Makindye areas.
Quality Shopping Village Mall is located in Lubowa just after Zana along Entebbe Road. With a supermarket (Quality), a pizzeria, restaurants and ice cream parlors, Quality Shopping Mall is located in the residential area of Lubowa about 100 metres from the Entebbe Road highway. It is practically empty on most weekdays judging from the neighborhood it is located in and the amount of entertainment one can get from there. However it comes to life in the evenings when most residents stop over on their way home. It’s also a good meeting point for people living in the area.
Lugogo Mall is located in Lugogo right opposite Kyadondo Rugby Club. It has supermarkets (Game and Shoprite), cafés (notably Good Africa Coffee), banks, unisex salons and is a popular hangout place for tourists and the corporate class Kampalans. It has great parking space and the beauty is that it has two exits and entrances on Jinja road and Lugogo bypass. Right next to Lugogo Mall is Forest Mall. It is still quite new and not so busy. With various cafes (Samba Café), a string of banks, salons, uptown boutiques, unisex salons, and a photo studio.
Tirupati Mazima Mall is located on Gaba Road opposite Quality cuts. With its striking red tiles it’s hard to miss. With Uchumi Supermarket, an ice cream parlor (Paradice), sports bars (Planet Sports), unisex salons, a discotheque, a mini brewery (Venom), boutiques, electronic shops, and offices, Tirupati Mall is quite a tease on the outside but once on the inside, you realize how huge this mall is. It’s quite new but worth checking out if you live in the areas of Gaba, Muyenga, Kabalagala, Nsambya, Kansanga, Munyonyo and Makindye.
Malls in Kampala might be known for many things such as a source of free parking, a place to hang out as you wait for traffic to ease up, a good meeting point, or a convenient shopping spot with great deals and promos. It’s therefore such a shame that a good number of Kampalans are still intimidated by long held beliefs and stereo types of malls being pretty expensive and intended for the upper class.