Here are China expats shopping tips for living in China.
There are two types of sellers: one who's taking advantage that one is a foreigner and give high prices (sometimes double), and one who starts with not so high prices. I think in tourist areas, sellers are more likely of type one. Sometimes they start with 2x the cost and you can halve it or more as you bargain. But, where I live is far from tourist areas. Their starting price sometimes is already low and can't be made lower or only 20% lower. Yeah of course there are type 1 sellers too. How to know which type is your seller? Make friends :) I always go to local market to shop. If I find nice sellers, I keep coming back. They will more likely give you the best product: chicken, clothes, oranges, etc at a good price. I get all this skill after a while after I get more accustomed with prices, goods and others.
Like in the USA, sellers come to sell only in the morning. I love this one the best since there're so many variations of sellers and products that change everyday. This type of market is disappearing since Beijing develops to be a bigger and bigger city. After the area is developed a permanent market is built for the sellers and they move there.
Buying onion in a morning market.
Supermarket's prices for meat is highly competitive now. I, sometimes, even prefer to buy in a supermarket. But, check out your local public market, especially for rare items like crab, lambs' legs, etc. BIG public market really carries fresh items and at much cheaper price.
This is a little segment of 清河小营. One major local market. Very big, this is a tiny snap shot of their meat segment. This place is very far from tourist area, prices are really cheap and they sell everything from clothing, beauty products, fruit, veggie etc. Next to it is a big auto part market.
If you get homesick and can't find your favorite food/stuff in a nearby store, try taobao. I buy so many stuffs there. They sell everything and most of the time at a much cheaper price than department store. I bought Barbie dolls, Vaseline, DVD, kids waterproof clothing/gloves, etc! I like their clothing too. Try this key word 外贸, this means exported stuff. I also buy my shoes and clothing there. I am not big, but I really can't find shoes/clothing of my size in local market. For books, I use dangdang. For Beijing delivery, it's free and comes on the same day/next day!
There are two types of places to go shopping: expensive department store and local market. My tips for living in China is to go to the local market. Experience it, see why it's special. You can bargain too and they carry good quality imported products too. Prices in dept. store are very pricy, for the same item, sometimes can cost double than that of in the USA.
Depends on where/when you buy them. In supermarket, usually costs more. For example: Carrot costs 1.58 yuan in the winter in a supermarket in public market it costs 1 yuan/lb. In the summer can be half of that, close to the spring festival will be more expensive. I like buying things in public market. Not only that it's cheaper but it's more alive and, I think, fresh. And if you know the sellers, you can be sure you get good fruit. For example oranges. There are many different types of oranges, but if you knew the seller, he'd tell you which is good. It's a lot of fun! In the past, Beijing used to have morning market, but now they are disappearing.
Just email me for more tips!
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Last updated 2016