"To bargain" in Chinese is "砍价(kǎn jià)", or "讲价(jiǎng jià)", "杀价(shā jià)" and "讨价还价(tǎo jià huán jià)". It refers to a buyer and a seller negotiating the price over during the purchase. Some foreigners might wonder when to bargain while they are shopping in China, and how to get the things they like with the lowest price possible. Let us introduce some basics of the art of bargaining in China.
You can only bargain in some places. At the shopping malls or supermarkets, normally you have to buy things with the marked price and can't bargain. However, at some smaller stores or markets, you can. The merchants will raise the price higher in order to make profits here. In this situation, you might stand to lose money if you don't bargain with them.
But how to bargain?
Let's say you want to buy clothes. You can ask the owner, "How much for this piece of clothing?" The owner might offer you a price like 200 yuan. Then you have to think whether you find the price reasonable or not. If the owner offers a price you find too high, you must bargain. You might say, "That is too expensive!" or "Can it be cheaper?" Then, name your own price. Half of the price they offer is usually much closer to the real cost. You can say, "How about 100 yuan?" Of course, you will deal with different prices in different cities and different locations.
You must keep in mind that you should not show you like the clothes. Instead, complain about the flaws. In this way, the owner will think that you might know something, and they will consider selling it at a cheaper price. Then the owner will lower the price a bit and might say, "How about 180 yuan, just for you?" Next, you can raise yours a bit too: "This piece is worth no more than 120 yuan." Finally, the bargaining will end up with a middle price, and you might get the clothes for 150 yuan. But if the owner does not agree to lower his original price, you can just pretend to leave without buying it. Then the owner might feel bad and sell it to you anyway for a cheaper price.
Do not get nervous during bargaining. The more bargaining you do, the more experience you will get.