Shopping Discussion

Why Indian/Chinese stores have cheaper prices for goods/services?

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  • May 13th, 2011 12:16 pm
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[OP]
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Feb 23, 2008
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Why Indian/Chinese stores have cheaper prices for goods/services?

I have often seen that if you visit a Indian/Chinese store prices or services tend to be cheaper than most other stores. Its the same story with Dentists, Pharmacies, Eye glasses, Groceries, Seafood, Bakery, Haircut, Auto garage and pretty much everything else.

Just wondering what is the reasoning behind this? How can they afford such low prices and still stay competetive eventhough the service is pretty much the same and they dont seem to be cutting any corners?

Please dont bring out any racist comments and kindly stay on topic.
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29 replies
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
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Waterloo, ON
Perhaps many are new to Canada and so they're trying to establish themselves. As a result they're willing to work harder for less pay, etc. Moreover if their clientele also tend to be new Canadians then they probably can't afford to pay regular prices for these goods and services either.

It's also possible that labour costs are low because some of the workers are illegal in Canada and/or the store owners aren't remitting withholding taxes and/or sales taxes to government. I don't know how widespread it is. I'd imagine it happens more frequently with individual store owners in ethnic areas than it does in with national store chains and franchises in more mainstream areas.
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Dec 23, 2003
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Bylo,

Instead of painting the picture that they are tax cheats or working illegally, have you considered the fact that many stores are run by the owners or family? In a way to control costs, they have family members work there instead of hiring outside staff which saves them overhead and they can manage better prices. I also find that they seem to be more resourceful in finding deals and would buy merchandise from locals stores as it is cheaper then ordering it from their standard supplier.

There is this stigma that every immigrant is a cheat and does illegal stuff. I know some very well do that, but many times Chinese and Indian culture people stick together and work very hard as a collective and not just individuals.

Even in work conditions that are in professional places (i.e. IT for large companies) I see Chinese and Indian people focus more on getting the task done and are more willing to work the longer hours. They recognize that they may skip a break willingly just to get ahead. In contract, many native Canadians work like a clock and drag things out, take break and then complain that there is not enough time to do stuff.

While I am not trying paint a negative picture of how all work, this has been my experience with Chinese and Indian people. Of course every nationality has some lazy bloaks that need a kick in their bottoms as well :lol:
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Nov 26, 2009
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Less advertising and marketing costs too.

No franchise fees built-in to the price. Lots of factors.
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Aug 12, 2006
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bylo wrote: ...


It's also possible that labour costs are low because some of the workers are illegal in Canada and/or the store owners aren't remitting withholding taxes and/or sales taxes to government. I don't know how widespread it is. I'd imagine it happens more frequently with individual store owners in ethnic areas than it does in with national store chains and franchises in more mainstream areas.
I think its is true. Once I arranged a get together and one co-worker arranged for food and other stuff.
As usual I asked for invoice/receipt and got nothing.
He told me that some of these Indian hotel/stores have cheaper pricing because they deal with cash and no invoice.

I never approve such arrangement. But yes this is common practice in Asian businesses.
Its very common in Asian restaurants. No tax + discount if you pay cash.
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hightech wrote: Instead of painting the picture that they are tax cheats or working illegally... nThere is this stigma that every immigrant is a cheat and does illegal stuff.
Note that I prefaced my comments with, "It's also possible..." so it's hard to imagine how you managed to infer that I somehow meant "every immigrant."
I know some very well do that, but many times Chinese and Indian culture people stick together and work very hard as a collective and not just individuals.
I suggested that as well, e.g. "they're trying to establish themselves. As a result they're willing to work harder for less pay, etc."
Even in work conditions that are in professional places (i.e. IT for large companies) I see Chinese and Indian people focus more on getting the task done and are more willing to work the longer hours. They recognize that they may skip a break willingly just to get ahead. In contract, many native Canadians work like a clock and drag things out, take break and then complain that there is not enough time to do stuff.
Anecdotes aren't data. I too know/knew many people of various ethnic backgrounds who work hard and beyond the call of duty. I also know/knew many who are slackers and charlatans. That's another reason why I prefaced my comments with qualifiers like "possibly" and "perhaps", etc.

Another reason why recent immigrants seem to work harder and seem to be more ambitious is a form of self-selection bias. It takes a lot of ambition, hard work, willingness to take risk, etc. to leave your country of birth for another country about which you know little and where you have to start from the very bottom. As a result I suspect that those who make the move tend to be more ambitious, harder working, more willing to take the risks of starting a business, etc. than those who chose not to emigrate in the first place or those who grew up here.
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[OP]
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Feb 23, 2008
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Yeah these are locally owned stores and not franchises. Went for dental cleaning once and it was almost 50% cheaper than other dentists. Same with optician as was driving instructor, notary, moving, plumbing, as well as other licensed professionals.
While the above arguments might be true I dont feel bad for going to a place where there are considerable savings and they are no frills and upfront with their rates.
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Feb 2, 2006
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bylo wrote: Perhaps many are new to Canada and so they're trying to establish themselves. As a result they're willing to work harder for less pay, etc. Moreover if their clientele also tend to be new Canadians then they probably can't afford to pay regular prices for these goods and services either.

It's also possible that labour costs are low because some of the workers are illegal in Canada and/or the store owners aren't remitting withholding taxes and/or sales taxes to government. I don't know how widespread it is. I'd imagine it happens more frequently with individual store owners in ethnic areas than it does in with national store chains and franchises in more mainstream areas.
hightech wrote: Bylo,

Instead of painting the picture that they are tax cheats or working illegally, have you considered the fact that many stores are run by the owners or family? In a way to control costs, they have family members work there instead of hiring outside staff which saves them overhead and they can manage better prices. I also find that they seem to be more resourceful in finding deals and would buy merchandise from locals stores as it is cheaper then ordering it from their standard supplier.

There is this stigma that every immigrant is a cheat and does illegal stuff. I know some very well do that, but many times Chinese and Indian culture people stick together and work very hard as a collective and not just individuals.

Even in work conditions that are in professional places (i.e. IT for large companies) I see Chinese and Indian people focus more on getting the task done and are more willing to work the longer hours. They recognize that they may skip a break willingly just to get ahead. In contract, many native Canadians work like a clock and drag things out, take break and then complain that there is not enough time to do stuff.

While I am not trying paint a negative picture of how all work, this has been my experience with Chinese and Indian people. Of course every nationality has some lazy bloaks that need a kick in their bottoms as well :lol:

Bingo... Lower labour costs.
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Jan 7, 2007
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Also in these stores that sell chicken, they are not "certified". Certifications cost money!
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Jan 10, 2010
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I have never used any Chinese store/services. But I remember a couple of years ago a Chinese lady said she could hook me up with some Chinese hair dresser for cheap haircut and perm etc. I couldn't quite understand her but the impression was that I had to pay cash. If that's the case, I can imagine how they manage to keep their price down. Also, Asians tend to work for themselves and hire only family members and friends. That's another way to eliminate expenses.
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Aug 2, 2001
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hightech wrote: Bylo,

Instead of painting the picture that they are tax cheats or working illegally, have you considered the fact that many stores are run by the owners or family?...Even in work conditions that are in professional places (i.e. IT for large companies) I see Chinese and Indian people focus more on getting the task done and are more willing to work the longer hours. They recognize that they may skip a break willingly just to get ahead. In contract, many native Canadians work like a clock and drag things out, take break and then complain that there is not enough time to do stuff.

So you think it's wrong that someone stated immigrant shop owners are "tax cheats" and "working illegally" yet you feel you can talk about "native Canadians that work like a clock and drag things out" and stereotype their work ethic?

I think that's the definition of hypocritical. If you have the right to call "native Canadians" (yes, I know you do not mean Aboriginal Canadians) lazy and such, others have the right to call the immigrant shop owners lazy and tax cheats.
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Nov 1, 2010
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Labour, marketing, utility cost, maintenance, rent....

When was the last time you've seen an ad for an asian garage, and say Mr. Lube.
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Apr 1, 2010
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bylo wrote: Note that I prefaced my comments with, "It's also possible..." so it's hard to imagine how you managed to infer that I somehow meant "every immigrant."


I suggested that as well, e.g. "they're trying to establish themselves. As a result they're willing to work harder for less pay, etc."

Anecdotes aren't data. I too know/knew many people of various ethnic backgrounds who work hard and beyond the call of duty. I also know/knew many who are slackers and charlatans. That's another reason why I prefaced my comments with qualifiers like "possibly" and "perhaps", etc.

Another reason why recent immigrants seem to work harder and seem to be more ambitious is a form of self-selection bias. It takes a lot of ambition, hard work, willingness to take risk, etc. to leave your country of birth for another country about which you know little and where you have to start from the very bottom. As a result I suspect that those who make the move tend to be more ambitious, harder working, more willing to take the risks of starting a business, etc. than those who chose not to emigrate in the first place or those who grew up here.

Good post.

I find it somewhat perplexing that he would accuse you of:
painting the picture that they are tax cheats or working illegally... nThere is this stigma that every immigrant is a cheat and does illegal stuff
then go on to say this:
many native Canadians work like a clock and drag things out, take break and then complain that there is not enough time to do stuff.
And he's a moderator too. :-0

Anyway as you said personal anecdotes aren't evidence, I used to have my cars serviced by a shop owned by three brothers who immigrated from Asia, they certainly weren't cheap but did great work and were very honest.
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Feb 11, 2009
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champlinD wrote: I think its is true. Once I arranged a get together and one co-worker arranged for food and other stuff.
As usual I asked for invoice/receipt and got nothing.
He told me that some of these Indian hotel/stores have cheaper pricing because they deal with cash and no invoice.

I never approve such arrangement. But yes this is common practice in Asian businesses.
Its very common in Asian restaurants. No tax + discount if you pay cash.

I'm not sure what Asian businesses you've shopped at but I've never experienced that.
Chinese Store: Oceans...It's a franchise and sells groceries at a fraction of a price of something like No Frills or Walmart/Sobeys/Fortinos etc....always provide a receipt and runs like any large chain store, which often advertises by sending out flyers

Indian Store: Asian Food Market/Subzi Mundi...Always provides receipt whether cash or credit, so not sure whats going on with where you shop...

Those cash discounts people are referring to, not sure if you didn't know this or w.e, but all credit card companies charge retailers around 2.5% for a credit card transaction and there is a delay in receiving the payment between the time of transaction and time of payment between Credit card company and retailer...this is where the cash discounts come.

Now here's something ironic...

Won't take the stores name but the guy said: I won't charge you tax, and give you another $200 off when if I pay by cash and don't take a receipt...this was one of those guys a new home builder sends you to to get extras in you're home and decide where you want things like cable out puts etc.
The ironic part...this guys white...

So no, its not asians or immigrants that do this...it can be anyone.



BTW OP, I can see your Indian...Kat as DP ;)
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Nov 15, 2004
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Word-of-mouth advertising, or advertising on those saturday morning specialty shows instead of on prime time lowers advertising costs tremendously. Interac and the credit card companies also charge lots of fees for their services, so accepting cash only automatically gives you a price advantage of around 3-5%. The ever-so-Canadian excuse for a coffee shop known as Tim's has been doing that for decades, and yet for some reason only new immigrants get accused of being tax cheats. Funny that.

The simple answer is that they run leaner business than the bigger places, and often expect more from their workers (who are happy to give it). Just look at barber shops for example. First Choice gives a terrible haircut for around $16-18 (for men) these days, rushes you out of there, and only does the haircut and gel. The barber shop I go to takes their time and does a much better job with a wash for less money, and gives me a discount card that gets me a free cut every 10th visit. You don't get anything like that at any of the 'Canadian' places.
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champlinD wrote: Its very common in Asian restaurants. No tax + discount if you pay cash.
I've been to a lot of Asian restaurants
and they always charge tax
And they've never given me a discount for paying in cash

I ask a plumber or handy man if he can give a discount if I pay in cash
sometimes they say "yes"
usually they say "no"
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When the Lucky Moose made headlines in 2009/2010, the owner/manager was reported to take home about $30 K in annual income (Toronto Star). He supported a wife and two almost university age children. I don't know how much the managers of the local Fortinos/Longos/Whole Foods are taking home, but I don't know of too many people who would be content to raise kids on that amount.

He's also buying food at wholesale prices, which I'm sure look a lot better than my food costs for the month. Also, many of the shop owners live above or very close to their business, eliminating transportation costs. Property tax must be significantly lower as well, since few have parking unless they're part of a strip mall or complex.
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A friend of mine is running a family bakery business and the ways they take advantage of the tax system are beyond imaginable. It's off-topic but I know a chinese family that has been reporting almost zero income for the past 15 yrs yet they bought a house and 4 cars during the period.
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think about geek squad in best buy, guys wear shirts and tie, drive a nice beetle vs your locally owned asian computer tech guy around the corner
a) no ads
b) no huge rent
c) no $1000000 insurance to cover them
d) no uniforms
e) no certifications
f) no warranty
etc
are you getting a better deal ? yeah probably, but many consumers are willing to pay a big premium to receive service from a big company
put it this way, if they charged the exact same (big box store vs little guy) which one would you give your money to ?
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