Since we stayed at the JW Marriott, we were within walking distance of the Liberation Monument area, a prosperous commercial district. Our favorite stores were a bookstore that covered five floors and had a large children's section as well as bestsellers such as Harry Potter in Chinese. It also had an electronics section with every form of digital camera and MP3 player you could imagine. We ended up buying maps of the area, scads of children's picture books, and a Chinese-English dictionary for about $8. Directly across the street from the bookstore was a department store with everything you'd expect to find at a Macy's or Nordstrom. It even had a roomful of massage chairs, a welcome respite for my tired calves.
Shopping in China is interesting, though. Say you find a shirt that you like. You must find a salesperson who will write up a ticket for that item. Then you head to a cashier to pay for said item and they stamp the ticket. Then you take the ticket back to the salesperson and collect your goods. Woe be the unwary consumer who tries to gather up goods from different departments and pay for them all at once at the cashiers.
At the basement of the department store was a Chinese grocery store. This is a must-do for anyone in China. You can find Western-style snack foods, like Oreos and Ritz crackers; oddly enough, we saw flavors of Western crackers that have never shown up in the States. But there are also meat and produce sections offering dim sum, cooked duck, octopus, and durian. We found ourselves doing double-takes several times during our shopping foray. One of our favorite finds was a pineapple beer for the equivalent of $0.25. It was light and refreshing but undeniably beer. Since we were toting along our new daughter in her Baby Bjorn, we had probably more interaction with locals than if we had been alone. People were very open and kind, even the older Chinese women who checked her clothing to make certain our daughter was neither too hot nor too cold. They do love their babies. Altogether, shopping in China immediately immerses you in local culture and makes you feel like you've gone beyond tourism and really checked out the soul of the place.