You can bargain for most anything in China. From shoes and bananas to hotel room prices but usually not in large stores or restaurants (unless they offer you a discount, then you know to bargain). If you do bargain, start at about 50% of the original price, and you’ll be shocked at how many times you”ll get it for that.
When quoting a price, you can expect people to get as much as they think you think its worth. Foreigners are susceptible to paying too much as they don’t realize how low prices really are in China. You need to have a realistic idea in your head what something is worth – in China.
Bargaining is a friendly, social art. Don’t feel bad or shy about stating your price. Also never feel bad you might be going to low. Sometimes its necessary to counter an offer of 800 with 50 or 75 in order to settle on 110.
If a local Chinese is buying what you want, watch the transaction of cash and see how much is paid.
There are a few bargaining tactics you need to be aware of.
Often what you want is sold at more than one stall in the area you are shopping. Ask prices and bargain at several before buying.
You can always go back. Leave if its not going your way or you want to compare prices. The shopkeeper have a sudden price drop upon your departure. Even if not you can return to bargain more or settle on their offer.
Shopkeepers may look annoyed if you bargain hard, but either
(1) they are annoyed they cannot profit greatly from you,
(2) looking annoyed is part of their bargaining act or
(3) they were annoyed when you arrived.
Never feel bad about having bargained so hard and feeling like you’ve cheated someone, no matter how much it may seem so. They will never sell you something at a loss!
Rule of thumb:
Street vendors, family-owned stores or small businesses = you can bargain.
Large malls, corporate chains = no bargaining.
Bargain on material items only (when you in Guangzhou wholesale market, like the gift items, clothing, jade, etc ).
Sometimes at a small business stores you’ll see signs that say “All prices final” or “No bargain!” — disregard these signs, they mean nothing and are only meant to trick the unknowing.
Never bargain on food at a restaurant or on the street.
You cannot negotiate prices on automobiles in China. You’ll be hard pressed to have them throw in free floor mats.