Everything Is Too Expensive!

In China, there are many sayings based on success, fortune, and money. Money is important and being able to negotiate a price is a prized skill. Historically, the price of everything people buy was negotiated but now, with more and more global brand stores and high-end shopping malls throughout China, bargaining is less common, especially with the younger generation.


While some older women will try to bargain on any price anywhere in the world, the general rule is if the price is not clearly marked, you can negotiate with the salesperson. There are some markets where bargaining is still expected, like Dongwu Yuan Road in Beijing, which sells cheap clothing or the Science and Technology market in Shanghai, which sells accessories.

There are many ways to negotiate a price, but typically the buyer will ask the price and then claim that whatever the seller says is too expensive (太贵了 tài guì le). The buyer will offer half and negotiate from there. If you are buying more than one of the item, you can often get even more of a discount. Be aware that if you look like you have money, especially if you don't look Chinese, the seller may quote a higher price. Also, if you show that you like the item, the seller is less likely to decrease the price. It can help to shop with a friend who can push you to leave the store while you negotiate. Most importantly, always be prepared to walk away from the store, that's when the seller will offer the lowest price.


While bargaining for a lower price is a revered skill among women in China, it is not an admirable quality in a man. Women traditionally want to marry a man who will support them financially and buy them anything they want. So a man who says everything is too expensive and is always trying to get a lower price when shopping is not a desirable trait.

In modern China, with online shopping and regular deals available through services like TaoBao and JD, the younger generation has less patience for the art of bargaining. Everything can be found on TaoBao and often much cheaper than in small stores. In fact, most of the small store owners are selling their items on TaoBao as well. So you can use online shopping sites to check a price to make sure you are not being ripped off when negotiating, or you can just shop online.

This article is part of our new online Chinese course. An efficient way to learn Chinese language for working and living in China.