How to Bargain Like a Native in China

Bargaining in China is a national pastime. (Image: via wikimedia)

Thirty years of marriage to a Shanghainese-born wife has taught me a few lessons about her culture. One of them is that bargaining in China is a national pastime. Thus, I had to learn how to bargain like a native in China.

There’s lots of shopping to do in China, but it’s important to be prepared by understanding how to find the best prices for the goods you want. When shopping in China, most retailers, except for department stores and up-scale shopping malls, will be prepared to bargain.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

Aside from knowing where to go and what to shop for, make sure your bargaining skills are equally up to snuff, or you may end up paying far more than you should have. Regardless of the market or situation, here are some tips to help you get the best price on all your goods.

To bargain like a native, bring your poker face

Rule number one of bargaining: Never act like you absolutely must have the item. Salesmen worldwide love customers that are excited about a product — it means they can price it much higher. Play it cool — if you see something you really want, keep a straight face and act like you’d rather walk away than pay a fortune, and you’ll get a much better price.

Assume its fake

If you find a good deal on high-end brands, they are probably fake. Given that genuine designer goods tend to be more expensive in China than elsewhere, it is best to leave such purchases for your return home.

You need to learn how to bargain like a native in China.
Rule number one of bargaining: Never act like you absolutely must have the item. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Start low… really low

Depending on the market, the starting price could be 7 or 8 times what it should be. Keep this in mind when you throw out your first price. If you want to bargain like a native, start low. You can always go up from there, but you can’t go back down.

Shop around

See something you like? Walk around and see if other stands have it. That way, if you can’t get the price you want, you can always walk away and try a different stand.

See something you like? Walk around and see if other stands have it. (Image: torbakhopper via flickr CC BY 2.0 )
See something you like? Walk around and see if other stands have it. (Image: torbakhopper via flickr CC BY 2.0 )

Observe other people

If someone else is buying the same thing for a reasonable price, tell the seller you want the same price. Sometimes you can avoid the back-and-forth routine altogether!

Be firm, but polite

Don’t underestimate the importance of allowing the seller to save face. Sometimes negotiations do not go the way you planned. Especially in larger clothing markets, sellers may act outraged by a low price, but keep your cool. Often, if you say something insulting, or even quote a price that is ridiculously low, the seller may decide not to sell to you at all.

Come back for more

If you know what you want and you’ve got a certain price from that stand before, sometimes you can save time by just assertively saying that price from the get-go. They see that you know, and they want to save their time too. You can also get a better deal when you buy multiple things from the same seller.

Use the ‘grumpy husband’ trick

A good one for couples who fancy trying out their acting skills. You are the irritated husband who is tired of his wife spending all his hard-earned money. You are the long-suffering wife who has to argue for every cent your husband spends on you. If the seller believes he has to convince the man who doesn’t even want to make a purchase, the price should plummet. This is a great way to bargain like a native.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Recommended Stories

A girl reading a book.

Why Reading to Children Is Important

Reading to children isn’t just a pastime or a spontaneous activity. It has many benefits ...

Shattering your fears.

6 Tips to Conquer Your Fears the Healthy Way

Fear is a normal reaction that helps people avoid dangerous situations or encounters. In instances ...

Flags of Australia, Canada, the U.S., the UK, and New Zealand with the image of an eye on them to symbolize the Five Eyes alliance.

The Highly Secretive Five Eyes Alliance Has Disrupted a China-Backed Hacker Group

This week the Five Eyes alliance — an intelligence alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom, ...

Melbourne, Australia.

Dependence on China: Australia at Most Risk Among Five Eyes

A study by London-based think tank the Henry Jackson Society has found that among all ...

Takaharu Tezuka-style kindergarten.

Combining Japanese Ingenuity With Kindergarten Design

A Japanese architect named Takaharu Tezuka wanted a kindergarten that kids would love. So he ...

Parents outside a Chinese kindergarten.

Chinese Media Ordered to Stop Reporting on Kindergarten Abuse

The Chinese government has ordered local media to halt coverage of a kindergarten abuse scandal ...

Giant trolls.

Thomas Dambo: The Artist Who Creates Giant Trolls Out of Trash

Thomas Dambo from Denmark has created something unique for the people of Copenhagen to enjoy ...

The Amazon rainforest.

Study Finds African Smoke Is Fertilizing Amazon Rainforest and Oceans

A new study led by researchers at the University of Miami’s (UM) Rosenstiel School of ...

A dead humpback whale.

Scientists Surprised at Finding a Dead Whale in the Amazon Rainforest

When thinking of whales, you would probably picture these majestic creatures in the oceans, surging ...

Send this to a friend