What is the “best price”?: the art of negotiating in New Delhi markets
New Delhi—India’s capital and bustling metropolis—has some of the best markets one can find in the country. With a population of more than 250,000—each person, it seems, with their own car—navigating this city once you land can prove to be a challenge. Fortunately, the shopping is well worth fighting cars, buses and nimble, motorised, three-wheeled auto-rickshaws on your way to some of the most fun shopping experiences in south east Asia.
Where to shop?
You can buy just about anything at Delhi markets—at just about any price. The city offers a mix of outdoor and indoor market stalls, alongside independent store fronts. Some markets are designed more like a haat or weekly village market, while others look like your favourite Western mall.
Khan Market is one of Delhi’s most high-end markets and geared toward a wealthier crowd. Find unique art; Ayurvedic food, medicine and skin care products; and trendy bars and restaurants in a quaint, U-shaped passageway lined on the interior and exterior with shops. Conveniently located near India Gate, a war memorial inspired by the Arc d Triomphe in Paris, this market is open daily except Sundays.
Matka Market is your go-to destination for pottery of all kinds including plant holders, vases, bowls and even clay idols of Hindu gods. With more than 100 different vendors, chances are you’ll find loads of options for every style and budget. Located in South Delhi, this market is open daily until 8pm except Sundays. Matka Market may be open later, however, in the weeks before the holiday of Diwali, which celebrates the victory of light over darkness.
Chandi Chowk is the oldest and largest shopping district in Delhi. It offers the widest array of items—from spices to silver—spread out amongst different winding alleyways and narrow passages. Go explore and don’t forget to take a break from shopping by enjoying an assortment of delicious street food from vendors found around every corner! Located in Old Delhi, this market also is open Monday through Saturday.
Negotiate like a pro!
Now that you’ve found some places to shop, you need to learn how to shop in Delhi. Whilst some merchants place prices on their items and expect shoppers to purchase at that price; the fun of going to a market is in the negotiation. Negotiation is a sport, art and popular pastime in India and tourists can join in the fun!
Most items do not have price tags and so you must ask the price. When you ask, try looking nonchalant and disinterested. Remember that the first price quoted could be several times higher than the actual price they expect you to pay for it. Prepare to go back and forth a few times. If you aren’t making progress with your negotiations, try and ask for the “best price.” This is the signal to provide the lowest possible acceptable price.
Purchasing more things from the same vendor will also impact the overall price you pay and give you more leverage to negotiate. This might be the perfect time to do all your holiday shopping in one go.
Don’t be afraid to leave! One of the strongest negotiating techniques is to physically walk out or away from the shop. If the vendor is interested in continuing negotiations, they will follow you out and offer you an even better deal. And remember for certain handicrafts, you may have several options all in similar levels of quality from different vendors. So even if you are pursued out of a shop and don’t like that price—you will likely have other options to find similar items on your shopping journey.
Finally, the first sale is very important! If you get to the markets early, you may get a better deal. Many vendors believe that the first sale can set the tone for the rest of the day and are more willing to be generous in their offerings.
Navigating the markets can be challenging so try creating your own bespoke shopping tour and don’t be afraid to chat with everyone!
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