Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Price Disparity

There seem to be two classes of people here in China, the wealthy and the not.  I don’t want to describe them as poor since they seem happy with what they have and are not in extreme suffering.  There are also multiple different price structures in this society.  If you live in the lower class neighborhoods you would typically purchase your goods from local shops or the ‘wet markets’.  These are filled with fresh fruits and veggies, the local meat out on display or fresh baked breads – all at prices in the cents or couple dollar range.

Street Vendor selling and cleaning chickens
Here are the chickens for your purchase

Fish kept alive on the street - bass and other local fish -
20 RMB for a full fish, cleaned and gutted.

Who said China Doesn't have beef?

Wet market - fresh chickens - love the black ones!

Wet Market nearby

The middle prices, which includes those shoppers who reach up from the lower class and those that are looking for a bargin from the upper class, are the same as in America or maybe a little more.  A half-gallon of milk for about $4, a beer for about $0.35, quart of ice cream for about $4, rice is cheap, breakfast cereal is expensive.  These goods you would buy at a local grocery store or maybe a Carrefour.
Carrefour Seafood Department
Carrefour Bikes - Giant brand

Carrefour Fishing

Then you have the higher prices.  These are the prices that the 67,000 - $10+ Millionaires that live in Shanghai pay for their goods.  They shop at the places like the IFC mall and other high-end, 5th Avenue-type boutiques.  You will see them walking around the mall with their Gucci and Prada’s with no second thoughts about spending their money.

High-end Grocery store, e.g. City Shop (ref - retailnewschina.
Lastly, there is the prices for foreigners.  These are prices for those that can’t speak Chinese or look like they ‘should’ spend more money on their stuff.  These are the shops within and around the expat communities, like Kerry Parkside.  These are malls and shops that cater to those that ‘need’ a taste of home.  Grocery stores like Pines and City Shop will stock most of your home countries foods at 3 – 10x the price.  But since it’s cheaper to buy that candy or that Mac ’n Cheese for $3 a box, than to fly home – we just do it.


  1. Very interesting. Are the more expensive goods local? Seems like the "poorer" people have the best idea. Eat local, isn't that what we should all be doing now?

    So glad you got to have a Merry Christmas! Love all the blogs and can't wait until the next one!

  2. Not usually, the more expensive goods are foreign. This implies that they were made in China, shipped somewhere and then shipped back to China to sell to the wealthy.

    We do like eating locally, which means we can get a good meal for $1-2 each. But we usually end up buying our groceries at the middle-level market.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!!


  3. You have done a great job dear on this blog. I also agree with price-inconsistency of cereal brands or like as products found in rich & poor people and you have shown it greatly here through images.