The first part of NileGuide São Paulo’s three-part Christmas special examined the city’s family-friendly holiday attractions, including the best sites with lights. Today, we take a look at another pillar of Natal: shopping.
With Brazil’s economy growing more than 7 percent this year and creating jobs by the hundreds of thousands, Brazilians are purchasing more consumer goods. For example, they bought record numbers of PCs and TVs this year, about 13 million and 11.5 million respectively, according to media reports. Now, analysts are forecasting December sales figures to hit an all-time high of Rs. 96 billion ($57 billion).
Around São Paulo, malls have started to resemble Av. Bandeirantes at rush hour. While storefront windows are filled with sales, elbow room seems to be at a premium. Not even Santa Claus himself could fill all of these orders.
So unless you’re one of the bah-humbug, thought-that-counts or artistic types, there are sure to be some lines in your future. Still, knowing where to accomplish your shopping can save you time, money, headaches and, depending on your loved ones’ temperaments, heartbreak.
25 de Marzo: This is where bargain-hunting Brazilians come to do their Christmas shopping. The stores and bazaars lining this commercial strip in downtown São Paulo offer discounted items from spiced hams to home appliances. Knock-off clothes and accessories, perfume and cologne, and electronics are the specialties here. Around the corner, the Mercado Municipal houses dozens of vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods and spirits, among other edibles/drinkables. There is a certain seedy element to the area, however, so tourists would be wise to keep up their guards.
Rua Oscar Freire: Sampa’s Fifth Avenue. Imports and designer brands are the norm for the upscale shops, including many international chains, along this street in Jardins. Top stops for jewelry, artisan crafts and clothing can be found here. Many of the more posh Brazilians also come to sit at the outdoor cafes, chat and people watch. The nearby Shopping Jardins is one of the pricier malls in the city.
Avenida Paulista: Along the Paulista, browsers will find aspects of both Oscar Freire and 25 de Marzo. There are several traditional malls, along with bazaars specializing in electronics and “informal-market” street hawkers, known as camelos. With FNAC and Livraria Cultural, this is the best zone to buy for book lovers!
Consignment: Weekly flea markets at Praca Benedito Calixto in Pinheiros and Praça Dom Orione in Bixiga, Saturday and Sunday respectively, feature stocks comprising mostly second-hand (or third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-hand) collectibles and clothes, as well as antiques. Bazar Samburá in Vila Mariana is another place to find treasures among others’ trash, and all benefits go to help rehabilitate children with physical deficiencies.
Shopping do Iguatemi: Brazil’s first shopping mall, opened in 1966, is worth a visit in December if for no other reason than to gaze at its yuletide decorations. This year, the retail center’s atrium is decorated in the theme of a Christmas train station.