As politics is to a Beijinger, shopping is to a Shanghainese. The Shanghai people are renowned throughout China, rather unfairly and contradictorily, for both their thriftiness and conspicuous consumption.
As the unofficial fashion capital of China, the city boasts a bewildering array of hot new labels, stores and designers, all with powerful appeals on the purse. An explosion of avant-garde fashion and art in the ’90s gave rise to the Xintiandi, Taikang Road and Moganshan Road districts, a must-see for any serious fashionista or contemporary art lover.
Bargains abound, as do bargainers. If haggling were an Olympic sport, the Shanghainese would win gold, silver and bronze for the nation. It’s no secret in diplomatic circles that when negotiations reach an impasse, send in the Shanghainese.
So before setting out on your great Shanghai shopping expedition, it’s worth remembering that this is the probably the only city in the world that gave birth to its very own verb in English: To shanghai, loosely defined as to force or trick someone into doing something, going somewhere or buying something. Think fast and good luck.