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Shopping in Shanghai

Shopping in Shanghai is a very enjoyable experience. With big brands setting up branches and small unique shops sprouting up at many corners of the city, you are privileged with a wide range of shopping choices. All you need is a little patience, sharp observation; ability to endure long walks and bargaining skills and you can buy to your heart's content in the commercial capital of China.


Big shopping malls are convenient to find quality products and supermarkets offer a wide range of products at reasonable prices. Renowned areas offer Shanghai-style souvenirs at unbelievably low prices. To test or improve your bargaining skills, there is no better place than Shanghai. Some booth owners even speak good English, Korean and Japanese.

Shopping Places in Shanghai

Shanghai has become a shopping paradise for visitors mainly because of its appeal in its extensively vibrant shopping environment. Whether you’re looking for local novelty items or international brand names, you can be sure to find them here. There are also plenty of other shopping areas scattered around town offering specialty goods such as antiques and local crafts.

The main shopping areas in Shanghai can be divided into two main categories, shopping streets and centres.

Popular Shopping Streets of Shanghai

Huaihai Road 

Commonly referred to as Tokyo’s Harajuku and Champ Elysees in France, Huaihai Road is regarded as the fashion district of Shanghai.

Famous for selling numerous female goods, Huaihai Road is lined with classical and elegant architecture, as well as modern buildings. The exterior appearance and interior layout of buildings demonstrate a strong cultural flavor of a city, selling exquisite goods in the world. Huaihai Road symbolizes more of a taste, style and fashion.


Featuring everything associated to fashion from clothes to accessories, the street is scattered with huge malls and major shopping outlets such as the Paris Spring, Maison Mode, Yongxin Department Store and Parkson Shopping Centre, as well as a variety of shops selling specialty fashion items.

Perceived as an elegant and luxurious street, Huaihai Road also provides fashion shoppers an eye-opener with some of the world’s most renowned high-end fashion labels.

The eastern section of Middle Huaihai Road near the popular Xintiandi precinct has recently seen an influx of a large number of Western luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, and Ermenegildo Zegna. Many of the stores were opened in 2010 to coincide with the Shanghai Expo.

Nanjing Road

One of the world's busiest shopping streets, Nanjing Road, is the main and most popular shopping street in Shanghai. Stretching six kilometers from The Bund right up to Yanan Xilu, it is by far the world’s longest shopping district.


Nanjing East Road

Today's Nanjing Road comprises two sections, Nanjing Road East and Nanjing Road West. East Nanjing Road is a dedicated commercial zone. At its eastern end is the central section of the Bund, featuring the Peace Hotel. Immediately west of the Bund precinct was traditionally the hub of European-style restaurants and cafes.

Nanjing Road West features a number of upmarket malls, office buildings, the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, and shops. This area also previously featured a number of large mansions and estates, most of which are today either demolished or used by the government.

North Sichuan Road


North Sichuan Road is a significant street in Shanghai, China, being one of the busiest and main shopping streets.

Located in Hongkou district, North Sichuan Road is where one goes for an excellent range of reasonably-priced goods. It is the famous haunt of bargain hunters and budget shoppers. Yet, as cheap as they are, this, in no way, indicates a compromise in quality.


This is haven for those looking for general merchandise or everyday items that are mostly produced locally. You can also find some pretty good deals here by browsing the shops that line the street.

Popular Shopping Centers in Shanghai



Xujiahui is located at the intersection of four streets – Honqiao Road, Huashan Road, Zhaojiabang Road and North Caoxi Road - above the Xujiahui Metro subway station. This newly-established shopping district is home to three large supermarkets and six premier shopping malls and this is where to find all sorts of goods ranging from the expensive to the middle-priced. Xujiahui is said to be the best place to go for electronic items and gadgets, with The Grand Gateway Shopping Mall at its core.


Xintiandi is an affluent car-free shopping, eating and entertainment district of Shanghai, China. It is composed of an area of reconstituted traditional shikumen ("stone gate") houses on narrow alleys, some adjoining houses which now serve as book stores, cafes and restaurants, and shopping malls. Most of the cafes and restaurants feature both indoor and outdoor seating. Xintiandi has an active nightlife on weekdays as well as weekends, though romantic settings are more common than loud music and dance places. It is considered one of the first lifestyle centers in China.

The area was developed by Shui On Land during the re-development of the surrounding area. Some houses in Xintiandi were then limited (and not renovated, unlike the Chinese government and the real estate agency official version [2]), in order to implant an art gallery, cafes, and restaurants. Many tour groups both domestic and from abroad also visit Xintiandi as one of the main attractions in Shanghai.

Other Shopping Districts

Yuyuan Garden

Located in the Nanshi district, Yuyuan owns the title of "The Kingdom of Shanghai Arts", and it's proven too. If you're looking for specialist, China-made goods such as jade pieces, gold and silver jewellery items, trinkets, local handicrafts, craft items and antiques, then this area is the best place to find souvenirs.

The goods are sold in elaborately-decorated shops as well as at small roadside stalls, making the area itself look like one huge, colourful work of art.

Yuyuan Garden, whose construction started in 1559, is Yu Garden or Garden of Peace) is an extensive Chinese garden located beside the City God Temple in the northeast of the Old City of Shanghai, China.

Recent years, Yuyuan Garden is also famous for wholesale and retail markets around it. These markets sell varieties of Chinese-style products at a relatively low price, (compared with their price in overseas that will be extremely low,) Wholesalers can get the low price more easily, and ordinary customers may need bargain with seller.

Follow Fuyou Road and go south, on the east side (or the left side, if you follow our direction) is a big market. It is divided into many small stores, selling mirrors, Chinese knots, socks, stuff toys, watches, crystal products, pearl bags and handset decorations. Most goods are displayed on the first floor, while other floors are not as popular as it.

But you should have more patience because roads between lines of stores are quite narrow with crowded people, and you are easily got lost in the busy market, so wandering in order is a smart idea.

Leaving the market and keeping heading south along Fuyou Road, you will find another market selling crystal and agate products, "Shanghai Crystal Street," also on the east side (still the left side) of the road.

In it you can find crystals or agates of different shapes, sparkling and attractive. But all the stores sell similar goods so you need some special knowledge to tell which of them are of better quality and figure out the real price of them. (You may find tips later.)

Opposite to the crystal market is the "Fuyuan Shopping Mall." On the first floor, you can find lace products, which are cute while a little rough, fake hair, pearl bags, personal ornaments, teapot, chopsticks, embroidery, and ancient-Chinese-style dolls. The second floor of the mall sells health-care products.

At last, when you enter the Yuyuan Garden, you will see "The Show of Special Skill by Folk Craftsmen," which displays folk techniques. You can buy a paper-cutting of your side figure, or a pencil sketch of your appearance, or buy a doll made by china.

On the China Gift & Specialty Street, you can find products combined with China's old customs and current fashions, like chopsticks, walking sticks, instruments, bags, pearls, cups, bowls, scissors, combs, embroidered shoes, poker cards and chesses with special print, umbrellas and pens. These goods are for appreciation rather than for practical use.

You may have no idea of what you want to buy when wandering into this pedestrian area. But the more stores you look at, the more things you would want to buy.

Fuzhou Road

Also known as "Culture Street", Fuzhou Road has bookstores, record stores and small art galleries lining both sides of the street, making it a popular haunt for Shanghai’s cultured types. Nearly all of China's important bookstores are concentrated here on this road. Today, it boasts more than 30 specialty bookstores with wide and varied subjects ranging from Chinese Science and Technology to Foreign Language. Shops selling art supplies and stationery items can also be found here. 

With more than 30 bookstores in the area Fuzhou Road is said to have the highest density of such stores in Shanghai. Even Albert Einstein paid a visit here in 1923 to give a lecture on his Theory of Relativity. Shanghai's largest bookstore, the Shanghai Book City (上海城), is here at No.465. Further along the road away from People's Square you can find the largest official Foreign Language Bookstore in Shanghai (上海外文店) with the Shanghai Book Mall (上海图书城) opposite.

The Shanghai Foreign Language bookstore has three floors devoted to foreign language titles. Most of the materials are in English with the first floor containing mostly souvenirs, books about China history and English literary classics. The third floor has a wider selection of modern novels and magazines such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Hello.

If you are looking for videos, films or music, head to the 6th floor of the gargantuan 7-storey Shanghai Book City for its vast collection of Chinese and Western music CDs, DVDs, music videos, live concert videos and cassette tapes which are all very affordable. Expect to pay around 25 - 33 yuan for an album. Despite its large size however, Shanghai Book City only reserves the corner of the 7th floor for English books.


Then there is the two-storey Shanghai Classics Bookstore (上海古籍店) which is situated opposite Shanghai Book City. Ranked among one of the 100 most prestigious bookstores of fine arts in China, this large bookstore specializes in selling books and materials related to the fine arts. The store has a special section for imported magazines and books specializing in painting techniques, architecture, appreciation of Chinese traditional calligraphy & paintings and more.

For those who are seeking more specialized, Chinese literature, there is the Chinese Science and Technology Bookstore (中国科技图书公司) and many other smaller bookstores along Fuzhou road.

Duolun Road

Duolun Road is a short and quite street gathered with stores selling products passed from old Shanghai and goods with cultural sense. In old Shanghai, many modern literature figures, such as Lu Xun, Mao Dun, Guo Moruo and Ye Shentao, used to live in it. It also regarded as "an epitome of the change of Shanghai."

The stores on the street seem deep and dark, with old but precious products filled the rooms. They sell things as well as purchase valuable products. The street itself is like a museum, and walking on it, you can feel the custom and fashion of old Shanghai.

Pianos, maps, photos, typewriters, printing machine, comic strips, calligraphy and paintings, relics and western craft workers can be found along the road.

Besides these stores, you can also have a great fun in galleries, art halls, churches and coffee shops.

Tian Zi Fang

Tian Zi Fang is an arts and crafts enclave that has developed from a renovated residential area in the French Concession area of Shanghai, China. It comprises a neighborhood of labyrinthine alleyways off Taikang Road. Tianzifang is known for small craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios and narrow alleys. It has become a popular tourist destination in Shanghai, and an example of preservation of local Shikumen architecture, with some similarities to Xintiandi.

Tianzifang is largely hidden from the neighbouring streets, as it grew from the inside of the block outward, although there are now shops on Taikang Lu itself. Historically Lane #248 was a key entrance that, in order to gain access to the commercially developed area, required walking about 50m through whilst be surrounded by local residents' life, including bicycles, hanging laundry, etc. until finally emerging in the 'new' area.

Tianzifang has become a major tourist attraction and has more than 200 diverse small businesses such as cafes, restaurants, art galleries, craft stores, design houses and studios, and even French bistros. It is adjacent to the SML center which is among the largest shopping malls in Shanghai upon completion. It is also next to the Metro Line 9 Dapu Bridge station and less than 15 minutes’ walk from the 2010 Shanghai Expo site.

Despite all the businesses selling trendy foreign goods, the area does not have the look of having been overly beautified - electricity cables are still strung overhead, and air conditioning units are obvious on the outside of the buildings. The district is distinctly different from Xintiandi, another Shikumen redevelopment in the vicinity, in that it has managed to preserve its residential feel, adding to its appeal.

Hengshan Road


Hengshan Road, formerly Avenue Petain, is a street in the former French Concession of Shanghai. A major thoroughfare that connected the heart of the French Concession with the Catholic district of Xujiahui, the boulevard was for much of the 20th century the centre of Shanghai's premier residential district. Since the 1990s, many of the mansions along the road have been converted into bars, night clubs, and restaurants, and is one of Shanghai's more vibrant nightlife districts and popular particularly among expatriates.

One end of the Hengshan Road connects with the bustling Xujiahui District, where gathers a large quantity of young white collars working in foreign-funded enterprises; the other end adjoins to the areas of embassies and high-class residences, where is inhabited by a large quantity of foreign working persons and the crowd with relatively higher social class. Recently, along with the increasing prosperity of Xujiahui business circle, Hengshan Road ceaselessly rediscovers its cultural and historical extract details, combining the business and tourism, and putting priority on the development of businesses such as the catering industry of different countries’ tastes and customs, leisure bars, entertainment and bodybuilding. Moreover, Hengshan Road also develops to a proper proportion the monopolization of brand customs and the works of arts and crafts etc., and develops the characteristic service, preparing to construct an all-around elegant consuming area. Now, Hengshan Road has built an atmosphere of unique individuality, enterprise culture and management characteristics, and is making great efforts to construct a leisure and characteristic street of European taste and custom of New Shanghai.

Shopping in Supermarkets

If you're living here longer than two weeks, you are probably going to want to stock up on food and do some cooking. Grocery shopping is one of the delights of living in Shanghai, and it can sometimes mean eating healthier. There are several options to get the goods - big grocery stores, wet markets, or separate fruit, meat, and fish stores. The majority of the locals shop in supermarkets, because they offer all sorts of products at very reasonable price. Sometimes, a product can be 20 percent cheaper in a supermarket than in convenient stores.

These supermarkets are run by Chinese retailers as well as foreign companies. Big supermarkets include Lotus, Carrefour, Wal-Mart and Century Mart, some of which are offering imported goods.


Lotus is considered as a leader in supermarket fields and they already have 71 supermarket chains. The first Lotus was opened in Pu Dong District and adopting an advanced shopping concept, Lotus offers comfortable environment with everyday low price and new shopping experience.

For more information on the addresses of the various branches of Lotus, visit their website at Website: http://www.ourlotus.com/


Carrefour S.A. (French pronunciation: [kaʁfuʁ]) is a French multinational retailer headquartered in Boulogne Billancourt, France, in Greater Paris. Carrefour operates mainly in Europe, Argentina, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but also has shops in North Africa and other parts of Asia, with most stores being of smaller size than hypermarket or even supermarket. Carrefour means "crossroads" and "public square" in French.

Carrefour branches in Shanghai are set up just like any grocery store you might be used to in the West, except the food is a little different. However, you can usually find familiar goods.

For more information on the locations of all branches, you may visit the official Carrefour website: http://www.carrefour.com.cn/Shop/ShopListEng.aspx

You can also order your groceries from Carrefour e-shop at this link: http://e-shop.carrefour.com.cn/DefaultNewEng.aspx

Century Mart

Opened in October, Century Mart has raised the bar for local supermarket brands with its generous spread of products. Emulating and, in some areas surpassing, some of the international supermarkets in town, the upscale refit sees spacious aisles and impressive product displays.

If you are looking for affordable groceries while in Shanghai, head to the Century Mart. With several locations throughout the city, you're sure to find one near you.

A few points to note:  

∎ Before entering the supermarket, don't forget to put your carrying-on into a locker outside the supermarket and keep a paper with password.

∎ Remember to watch out the expiry date for fresh foods, such as yogurt.

Online Shopping

Living local is not only about speaking the local language and eating local food. To some, online shopping (the Chinese way) is just as important. More and more expats are taking to Chinese shopping websites, as both buyers and sellers, becoming more attuned to local life in the process. For them, this has almost become an essential life skill.

However, some ability in Mandarin- or enlisting the help of patient Chinese friends- is required before dipping a toe into the world of Chinese online shopping.



A Guide for Shopping on Taobao and other online retailers:

Create an account on the website.

Use key words to narrow down the shops that may have what you’re looking for.

Select several stores to compare product descriptions, prices and, most importantly, comments left by previous buyers.

Chat with sellers online to get more detailed information about products and agree on a delivery time. Sometimes you can also bargain for discounts.

Before you conclude a transaction, check the rules set by the seller to see whether you can return product if not satisfied and obtain a refund.

Pay for items either directly using a credit card or through creating an online shopping account for the site. Frequent buyers should set up an online account- the more you buy, the more discounts or special gifts you can get.

Last but not least, make sure you fill in your address correctly. This will help ensure you will receive your goods without delay and not give vendors an excuse for tardy service.

Popular Online Shopping Websites


One of China’s most famous online shopping websites that mainly features clothes, shoes and bags.



Also known as Jingdong, this site specialises in electrical and electronic products.



A book and CD retailer that has expanded into other fields.




Yihaodian (No.1 Shop)

Featuring foods and beverages

www. yihaodian.com


∎ Paying attention to different expressions used for discounts. The Chinese sign "7折" means 30 percent off, while "8折" means 20 percent off.

∎ Bring your own tissues when going to toilets. Even in some big department stores, tissues are not within reach around the lavatory. Make sure you have them at hand before it's too late.

∎ Some shopping assistants may follow you in some big stores. You can tell them you are just having a look and ask them to leave you alone.

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164