Answers from Our Experts (1)
Whilst many travellers are embarassed or shy to bargain, in Mumbai it is an expected part of the shopping experience. Whilst there are many "fixed price" stores where haggling will not be entertained, in street stalls it is expected and in most cases enjoyed by the shopkeepers.
Before you start haggling though it is worthwhile to keep in mind a few rules of thumb:
1. Generally, the more interest you show in something the less willing to bargain the shopkeeper is likely to be. Whilst it isn't always easy, it may be worthwhile curbing your enthusiasm for an item you are interested in, which should help the haggling process.
2. Bargaining relies on both parties making an ambit claim, so when the shopkeeper gives you their price you should first suggest a discount. They may ask you to name your price, but don't give them the maximum price you are willing to pay, but rather go below it, well below it. As a rule of thumb you can suggest paying half or even a third of the price they have suggested to you. From there the bargaining will begin.
3. Many Indians are superstitious and you may hear a shopkeeper say something about the first sale of their day. It is generally considered lucky for them to make their first sale, so starting your shopping day early could work in your favour (although bear in mind that most shops don't open until about 11am in Mumbai).
4. Don't be afraid to walk away from the sale. In many cases you will find the shopkeeper following you to continue bargaining. If they don't follow you, then you can assume that your price was too low. This will give you an indication of a fair price so that you can either go back or know where to start from with another shopkeeper. Don't be surprised to find the same items sold by several different shopkeepers in the same market area.
5. Don't forget to have fun. Bargaining is all part of the experience of being in Mumbai and should be enjoyable for both you and the shopkeeper.