When you live in China, it's inevitable to learn the Chinese way of shopping. If you are a shopaholic, you will find a lot of fun shopping in China. Here are some places to shop in China. Learn some Chinese or take someone Chinese along with you.
In China, everywhere is downtown. It is not like the west, where we separate the single-family dwellings from the business and shopping areas. In China, on the ground level, is store after store after store of small privately owned shops. Every neighborhood has it is own market.
In most cities in China, products are usually found grouped in districts. So if you wanted furniture, you would go to the furniture district. If you need office supplies you would go to the office supply district. If you need fabric, you would go to the fabric district.
There is usually a specific downtown area where you will find at least one main department store and a market. In the department stores, you pay the price shown on the ticket. There is no bartering. Department stores are very generalized, carrying everything from shoes to appliances. They will have a lot of products – but maybe available in only one style or one color. When you make a purchase – it is generally not returnable. There is seldom a guarantee. There are no fitting rooms to try on clothes. Women go shopping with a tape measure and generally just know their size when they see it.
Shopping Center and Walking Street
In the large coastal cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and many others, you will find high-end malls with brand-name retail stores. Hong Kong is full of these high-end glitzy malls. Most larger cities also have a walking street of shops, which is always a favorite place to spend several hours looking for a bargain.
In Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, there are several export markets, where you can find things produced for export, but not generally found in the Chinese shops. Here, things can be bought at wholesale prices. Fabric markets can be huge – some several acres in size – servicing the garment industry. It is not usually open to the general public and purchases made in the market are usually made by the bolt. However, if you go there and act like a foreign buyer, you can tell them you are making samples and need only a few yards. They will usually allow you to buy.
For most of inland China – most of the grocery shopping is done at the local market as opposed to the supermarket. The local market is dirty, wet and full of stalls selling everything from fresh local vegetables, homemade tofu, and eggs, to live poultry and dogs ready for slaughter. There are also lots of dried medicinal type foods available.
You won’t find a nice sliced pork chop or a roast here. You might buy a whole chicken, and the stall owner will take his cleaver and chop it up into a hundred pieced for you so it is ready for you to cook in your wok – with head and feet in a bag on the side. The beef comes ready cooked as a small roast that is sliced and added to noodles or stir-fry dishes. Chinese like fresh food, so they shop daily for their immediate needs.