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China Blog Shopping in China

Shopping in China

Shopping for Souvenirs in China’s Markets

Shopping is often a big feature of China tours and the golden rule is “Everything is negotiable!” In reality the whole process of shopping in one of China’s innumerable markets is best thought of as a game, and it’s a game you well may lose if you don’t go in there with your wits about you!

Firstly you have to be aware that 9 times out of ten the Chinese seller is starting with a ridiculous price, it’s not about knocking 5 or 10% off the starting price, it’s more like 65 – 80%! Your initial entry into the bidding process must not be too high as you will undoubtedly move up on it and the vendor knows this and they will be starting way above what they’d happily accept! So if they say 100, don’t be too embarrassed to start at about 15, they’ll laugh / procrastinate no matter the number you choose so be aware!

How to approach bargaining in China's markets

Have a good look round the market first of all. Everyone will be doing their best to pull you into their stall but it’s always worth noting how many different stalls are selling the product you are wanting. If there are plenty of places with it, you have a few attempts to work out what the price should be, if only one place has it then you have less bargaining power and are going to have to be a bit shrewder with your bids.

One thing you are definitely going to need to use during your China holidays is the “Walk Away”. The vendor has stopped haggling and there seems to be an impasse on the negotiating, you think this might be the final price but it’s still higher than you want to pay; just walk away. You have a 50% chance of being either chased down or called back for a second round of bargaining (usually initiated by them saying okay to your price to get you back and then attempting to start negotiating higher – now it’s time to stand firm!)

Finally a few words in Chinese will help out no end, don’t worry, nothing in depth! No deal will be concluded without them pulling out a large screen calculator to give you a price no matter how good you speak the language, it is just a little more likely they’ll see you as an expat rather than a tourist. The most important thing is to have fun with it all, it’s all part of a game and playing the game with a smile on your face and a bit of humor is much more likely to get you the deal you want and to make it a successful shopping trip in China tour.

Article originally posted by Phil Stanley and Headseast: 24th May 2013

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