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Shopping in Shanghai


Even before economic reforms in China kicked into high gear in the 1990s, Shanghai was a shopper's city. All across the country, the Chinese dreamed of making one visit to the great port, not to sightsee, but to shop. Anything made and sold in Shanghai, it seems, had to be the best; non-Shanghai goods were by definition inferior, and this reputation for the best goods and great shopping persists today. Shoppers now are able and willing to indulge in everything from uniquely Chinese products to international brand-name items and luxury goods, at venues ranging from modern department stores to open-air markets and sidewalk stalls.

Part of Shanghai’s appeal lies 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. The main shopping areas in Shanghai are divided into two main categories: 1) The Four Shopping Streets – Huaihai Road, Middle Tibet Road, Nanjing Road and North Sichuan Road; and 2) The Four Shopping Cities – Yuyuan, Xujiahui, Jiali and New Shanghai. Aside from these eight, there are plenty of other shopping areas scattered around town offering specialty goods such as antiques and local crafts.

Shanghai gets up late, and opening hours really vary. Local supermarkets open early, but malls don't usually open until 10 am and boutiques at 11 am. The upside is that stores tend to stay open later, with many closing at 10 pm. Markets generally start earlier, at around 7:30 am or 8:30 am, and close at around 6 pm. Most stores are open seven days a week. Shopping in Shanghai is a voyage of discovery that is best done on foot so as to discover the little surprises, especially in areas like the Former French Concession.

Places to Shop

Dongtai Road

There's a huge collection of antiques at Dongtai Road, from porcelain and bronzeware to paintings and calligraphies. Its antique market is the biggest in Shanghai, with hundreds of stalls and stores selling furniture, ceramics, jewellry, wood carvings and vintage bric-a-brac. It is also overflowing with Cultural Revolution kitsch and Mao memorabilia. All in all it's a great place for a spot of treasure hunting.

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 stationary items can also be found here.

Huaihai Road

Often likened to Tokyo’s Harajuku, Huaihai Road is known as the fashion district of Shanghai. Featuring everything fashion-related from clothes to accessories, the street is dotted with huge malls and major shopping outlets such as Huating Esetan, the Paris Spring, Maison Mode, Yongxin Department Store and Parkson Shopping Centre, as well as a variety of shops selling specialty fashion items. Seen as ‘the street paved with elegance and luxury’, Huaihai Road features some of the world’s most renowned high-end fashion labels.

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