Our shopping guide to shops in India
India is a fabulous place to shop, with a huge range of shops, really if you want
something you will find it here. Shopping in India can be a nightmare unless you start to follow one or two simple rules which we detail here as our India shopping guide. We have had much fun and satisfaction on our shopping trips, but have been very fortunate in being guided by local Indians who shop and live in India.
As a guide we take you through a few do’s and don’ts on India shopping and shops. But first to make you aware of one or two things. Do not approach shopping in India as you do back home, remember it is a totally different country, different continent for most of us and certainly a different culture. So drop all your thoughts about western shopping and start afresh.
Also as part of our shopping guide be aware that your taxi driver will often take you to shops where he will receive a big cut of what ever you purchase. So you need to make the decisions on where you want to go and do not let the taxi driver take you anywhere else. They may well feign that they have not understood and you will end up at some shop or other. Do NOT get out of the taxi and insist on going to the shops you asked to go to.
To guide you we will give you an example we experienced. India has ‘Tourist shops’, which specifically target
tourists and their perception of what is good value. Many of these shops are out there to exploit (make the most) from the tourist who does not know India. They will mark up articles many many times more than the actual Indian street value is. One ‘tourist shop’ we saw offered beautifully decorated hand made covers for 3,000 Rupees (approx £45 or US $65), probably a reasonable price for what they are worth in the west. By going to the shops away from the ‘tourist shops’, we purchased them for 250 Rupees (approx £3.40 or US $6). By staying away from the ‘tourist shops’ you are cutting out the excessive profits of the middle man, at the same time giving the ladies or people who make the product a better deal.
So shopping in India is – “The pictures say it all – browse, deliberate, try and then purchase – who said women shop thoughtlessly?” says Shamim, our shopping guide lady in Delhi.
As a general shopping guide the bigger shops, Government shops will have fixed prices with no real scope for haggling. Having said this Thomas Cook offered us 67 Rupees to the £ exchange, but we had enquired about the exchange rate from a money dealer on the street who offered us 69 Rupees to the £. So we asked Thomas Cook to match this as we would go back to the dealer in Conaught Square in Delhi. Their immediate response was to say the dealer would give us fake notes, but relented when we got up with the manager agreeing to match the price.
The purchase is the critical bit, on your own as a tourist, most Indian traders in the tourist areas (generally not true in the little villages away from the tourist routes), will immediately times their price X 4 to 10 times the local price. ALWAYS remember this as your Indian shopping guide rule!
So if you want to purchase something, as a guide we would suggest you offer a price at a quarter, 25% of the asking price and walk away. DO NOT convert the price back in to your western currency and say that is a good deal! This is India where as a guide to your shopping, it is important to remember that the Rupee purchases 10 to 15 times what your currency will do back home.
Go to a competitor’s store and ask the same question, but hold out on the price you have offered. Our Indian shopping guide to reducing the haggling time is to walk away, feigning indifference, once you have offered your price and do not budge from this price. As you walk away, you will often see the price drop dramatically. Listen to the lowest price they offer, if you cannot find a better deal go back later and said you offered this for XY Rupees, I will take it!