The Ultimate Guide to Bargaining in India – Save Money, Be Happy


Who doesn’t want to save money? After all, it is a great feeling to have full pockets at the end of the day, especially when it has been ‘the shopping day’. Bargaining is as inherent to shopping in Indian markets as culture is to India! If you are planning to shop on the Indian streets, you will have to master this art of bargaining. Street shopping can be thoroughly enjoyed if you are a pro in negotiating and settling down on prices of items that you love. It is not just a custom to bargain, it is a must. Pricing has no set rules in the Indian markets and most of the products are overly priced with really high profit margins. Hence, bargaining is the best way to go when shopping in India.


Photo by Jason D’ Great, CC BY-ND 2.0

Here is a comprehensive guide on bargaining, to help you out on the shopping streets of India:

1. Do Your Survey

As you visit a market in an Indian city, there are stores lined up that display and sell similar products. Do not just start shopping right away. Take out time to casually visit various stores and sort out products according to their price. This will give you an idea of the general trends of prices and what is the range of collection that most of the stores are stocking up. You can then settle down for a shop which is offering the lowest price for the same product.

2. Buy In More Numbers

According to a survey among Mumbai street shopkeepers, the more a customer buys the more discounts they get. So, try to select more than one item from the same shop. The shopkeeper will happily be interested in giving them away on a lower price. He wants the sale to be higher, rather than selling lesser items at higher costs.

3. Bargain As Soon As Possible

Do not behave as if it is your first time ever, bargaining (even if it is!). Be fast in selecting and ask the salesman to shoot his price. As soon as you know his price, start bargaining confidently. Generally, it is suggested to start offering a price one third of the quoted price. Do not give him the time to comfortably manipulate your pricing quotient. The quicker you begin, the easier it becomes to haggle.

4. Don’t Show You Are Desperate To Buy

Even if it is love at first sight with those Cinderella sandals that you have sighted in a shop, try to appear indifferent. If you become more desperate to buy something, the shopkeeper has caught you. He knows you will buy it at a higher price too. So, casually ask the price and immediately give your lowest rate. Most of the times, he is bound to sell it happily without too much of hassle. This strategy can be best used if you are tired or it is getting too hot!

5. Beg To Buy

This strategy generally works, as most shopkeepers tend to fall prey to it, especially if it is being done by the fairer sex. So get a little nasty, express your concern about not being able to bargain well and not wanting to go back empty handed. Quoting that you are an outsider turns the picture in a humble manner and you’re able to easily get your hands on a particular product on your terms without much hassle.

6. Slash Down The Price

If you are really confident that the prices are highly faked, offer an extremely low price, which is much lower than your expected buying price too. That brings the shopkeeper back to ground reality and he knows it is no use being reasonable about the exorbitant price he told you.

7. Do Not Fight

Bargaining is not a war. You are there to buy and the shopkeeper wants to sell. So, ultimately it should end up peacefully. No shopkeeper wants to struggle with an angry barking customer. That really puts him off. So, do not think shouting and fighting will make you win the case. Instead, stay calm and take it casually. Be firm about your price. Start with about one third the original cost. If he does not agree, rise up to 50% of the price quoted initially. Generally, that should settle down the issue. You can happily return with bigger shopping packets and more money left in your purse.

8. Walk Out

According to experienced hagglers, this strategy generally works when nothing else is working. If you have tried out all your tactics, but still negotiation has not reached to your desirable cost, simply walk away. This needs a stony heart, especially when you cannot think of parting away with the lovely stuff you has selected. So, if it is not settling down on your best price, simply walk away. Maximum chances are that you will be called back. Most Indian shopkeepers aim at selling at a lower price rather than not selling at all. If you are not called back, do not feel ashamed at turning back and buying it at his price.

So, hopefully you will learn the trick easily and bargaining will become your second nature if you make up your mind to do it tactfully. Ultimately, returning home with your favorite stuff is exciting. But economical use of money is the best part after you have shopped with bargaining well. Save money and stay happy forever!