Bargaining is the rule here in Beijing. At least, at the many markets and back-street clothes stalls, bargaining is an art and if you are unfamiliar with it we’d like to offer you some advice. The tips here are Beijing specific but may help you at any place in the world where bargaining is practiced.
DO NOT say how much you want to pay for an item unless it’s near the end of the process. Always try and drop the seller’s offering price as much as possible before opening your mouth with a price.
DO throw out really low prices like 10 RMB as long as you have a big smile.
DO keep smiling throughout. The seller is much more likely to continue bargaining with a happy smiling face. Getting angry rarely gets you the price you want.
BE AWARE the initial price offered by the seller is usually at least 40% over the general price acceptable. It can be up to 500% over.
DO have an idea of what the item is worth. You can ask Chinese friends, hotel staff, ex-pats. DO walk away once you’ve given them your final price, even before. If you get called back, you know you are close. If you do not get called back, go to a similar stall and try again with a slightly higher price.
The English being spoken by the seller will often consist of “cheaper”, “how much you pay”, “good quality”, “no profit”, and “highest price”. Numbers are tapped out on a giant calculator to avoid confusion.
Your best bet is to keep repeating the phrase “cheaper” to them as much as you can before revealing your price.
Decide on your price based on the chart above, how much you like it, and your perception of the quality of the item.
Once you’ve decided the price, you then tell them a figure about 40% of the price you’re willing to pay, and then go up in 5% increments until they give in.