How to haggle in a store without dying of embarrassment

Want to know to to haggle in a store? Or negotiate prices down? It doesn't have to be embarrassing! Click through for bargaining and haggling tips!i

Have you ever wondered how to haggle in a store? I think most of us are (relatively) comfortable haggling at a flea market or on Craigslist. But when we’re standing under florescent lights and talking to a well-dressed shop attendant, we lose our nerve. Luckily, Sherin is here to help us out!

When I think of haggling, I usually think of being in a market on holiday, and kind of just shouting until the price gets lower. But I never thought you could do it in a proper shop. That was until I read this really interesting article in Time Magazine.
It was all about how haggling and negotiating prices is much more acceptable now because of the current economic climate and how you can get everything at a discount price – if you do it right.
I remember my brother saying that I should try haggling when I shop on the high street, and I didn’t take him seriously at all. I would love to be able to haggle to get prices down, but I have no idea where to start. Here are a few tips that should make haggling easier:
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How to haggle in a store without dying of embarrassment

Know where to haggle

I doubt you could go into Oxford Street’s H&M and try to cut down the price of a t-shirt. But you could do it where the item is a bit more expensive. Electronics stores are likely offer discounts on TVs or DVD players. And you can ALWAYS haggle on jewelry.

Ok, maybe not the plastic rings from Topshop, but you could try in real jewelers that sell gold/silver. Independent stores are also good places to haggle. The sellers have more control over the prices, and the owner is usually around, so you could talk to them as well. If you speak directly to the manager or owner, you’re more likely to get a deal because they have more authority to cut prices.

Be Respectful

You shouldn’t be rude or offer ridiculous prices. Start with maybe 20% off. Try to remain polite and smiling. If you get angry, so will the seller and that could cause a scene. Try to remain calm, patient and slightly humorous. Try having fun and negotiate with the seller rather than having an unnecessary argument.

Do your research

Know what you want before you go shopping. Then do some research on the product. Try finding it at a better deal elsewhere or online, and then see if your chosen retailer can offer you a better deal. (I doubt they’ll tell you to buy it at the other place).

Have confidence

No one is going to offer you a discount if even you look like you know you’re not going to get one. Have some confidence and look like you’ve done this successfully before.

Build a relationship with the seller

Chat for a little while, saying that you like the product, *pause for large sigh*, but state that it’s just too much. Maybe then, with big puppy dog eyes, ask if there’s better offer. Use the right words to get them to maybe sympathize with you.

Say your other half/parent will go mental if you spend that much or say that you’re a student or unemployed.You also don’t want to show your interest too much. Pause and hesitate a bit and use silence to your advantage. Silence is your friend.

The more awkward the better. In these silences, when you hesitate, the seller will come in with better deals.

Shop at the right time

Firstly, you’re more likely to get the seller’s full attention. There will be less people around, so you’re more likely to be able to have a long chat. Also, if there are lots of people within earshot, the seller will definitely say no. This is because if people see one person getting a discount, they’ll all want one.

Know what items are likely to get discounted

Old inventory is a great one when asking for better deals. The seller wants to get rid of old stock quickly, to make room for newer products. ‘Damaged goods’ are also likely to get discounted, and usually they’re not that damaged. The Levi’s store near my university had a small fire, and when the shop re-opened a few days later all items affected by the fire where 50% off.

While browsing through these ‘damaged’ items, I realised most were in perfect condition. But keep a look out for missing buttons or frayed stitching. Last items can also get you some good deals. Again, the seller wants to get rid of these as quickly as possible to make room for other, newer products.

Ask about future sales

Ask if the item you like is likely to go on sale anytime soon. If it is, ask if you can get it at the sale price now, and say that if you wait, you might see it cheaper somewhere else.
I’ve not tried it yet face to face haggling purely because I’m too shy, but I have done so with phone companies. Pretending that you’re going to leave the provider always gets you a better deal. I suppose there’s no harm in trying, it’s not like they’ll make the item more expensive after you’ve tried!

Has anyone tried haggling in stores? I would love to hear some success stories!

P.S. 9 surprisingly easy ways to avoid buyer’s remorse

photo by Scott Webb // cc

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  1. Ashe Mischief

    When I worked at Urban Outfitters, people would absolutely haggle, and in certain cases, I definitely encourage it!

    If the item is marginally damaged (missing a button or belt, with a hole in the seam), absolutely ask if they can cut you a deal. Especially if it's the last one in your size/the color/the style. The same can go for an item already on sale… they want to get rid of merchandise as much as you want to buy it, so if you can find some excuse to get it for cheaper, try it!

  2. Magatha-May

    I love to haggle, I'm at the moment trying to get a mobile phone upgrade 3 months before I'm due one because I fell in love with a handset. So far I've gotten 2 months off, must try again tomorrow.

  3. jess

    You know, I've heard success stories that Amanda's Aunt's Friend's Sister was able to haggle successfully in a store, but I've never heard anything first hand…

    Seems like it might be a little more difficult in the US, with so many stores being department or chains. The only time I've successfully haggled is when the item was a floor display (usually the store policy is to take 10% off) or damaged (another 10%) – both of these were in a Macy's.

  4. nifer

    My boyfriend is a pro at this. I, unfortunately, am not (though I would love to be!). I am one who wants something too much to just walk away, which is sometimes what you have to project to successfully haggle.

    Great post, Sarah! I'll have to work my way up to it.

    ~ Jen

  5. Katie

    I love your advice posts! Thanks! Now to give this a try 😀


  6. Sarah Von Bargen

    Thanks ladies – but I can't take the credit. It's all via Sherin of the Hi Fashion blog! 😀

  7. kathrynoh

    I've only really haggled with electrical goods and furniture. Then not so much haggling as getting them to throw in some extras.

    I think it never hurts to ask "what's the best price you can do this for?" especially if you are buying multiple items.

  8. Luinae

    I certainly think that it's more acceptable in London/Europe then in Canada.

  9. Eyeliah

    Thanks, this may help me with my brand new broken camera screen. 🙂 among other things.

  10. Cheryl

    In most Asian countries like China and Hongkong,Thailand, Philippines, haggling is part of the shopping life though you can't do this on big brands or in high end boutiques.

    Haggling is actually fun especially in flea markets, bazaars and in some specialty shops.

    Yes, it involves good and serious acting but the reward is awesome especially if you really love the stuff that you're buying.:)

  11. Kitty

    So helpful! 🙂

  12. Minnie

    I’m a Professional Haggler & my craziest haggling experience was on my honeymoon, dressed inappropriately for shopping and my newly minted husband doubted if I would even get the normal selling price instead of a” Specially hiked up for you Tourist ” price 🙂 . I walked in confidently knowing exactly what I wanted and how much I was willing to pay for it. Wandered around looking at other things waited to hear the prices on objects I had no interest in to gauge how much the price was going to be hiked. Then accidentally wandered over to what I wanted and casually asked the price,by which time , the seller had lost interest in me and quoted a price reasonable enough to bargain down to what I wanted to pay. I put aside a whole bunch of things and then haggled away. My husband sat stunned that not only did I get what I wanted at the price I was comfortable paying but that I had also built up a rapport with the seller that he loved me at the end of it and gave me a lovely raw crystal outcrop just because I said it was lovely and in my favourite colour Purple . My husband sat stunned and watched the whole melee and still tells all his friends and family how he had to sit still so his mouth didn’t hang to the floor. just to give a perpective – I paid 1/10th of what was quoted and received a very gracious gift from the seller who I ensured was paid a reasonable price and didn’t feel cheated at the end of the experience. My husband still insists -” The owner didn’t know what hit him”. He claims he (hubby – boyfriend of 8 years) still doesn’t and that’s how he ended up married to me without knowing how it came about 😀

  13. Maureen L

    I sometimes ask if the vendor offers a discount for nice people. I flash my biggest smile and say with complete honesty and sincerity that I’m a really nice person! You’d be amazed how often it works.

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