Mastering the art of the haggle

girlshopping-1Last week an article from TIME caught my eye, claiming that “In this recession, if you’re not bargaining for everything everywhere, you’re needlessly draining your wallet.” The article then went on to claim that a recent survey found that 72% of consumers interviewed said they had tried to haggle, and of those, 80% were successful. That’s frugally fabulous news! These are desperate recession-busting times, and one certainly can’t ignore the bargains, and a little haggling may score you, no matter how cheap it makes you feel…

So, how are your negotiating skills? Are you up for a shopping challenge? I’ve done a fair bit of bargaining at street markets back home in South Africa, but never before considered trying to negotiate down the price of a garment in a retail store. But after my housemate, Kat, returned home with a sweet little summer dress that she’d bargained down to less than half the price after she’d spotted that the shoulder strap was broken, I thought it was about time I investigated the art of haggling and got to grips with the rules of engagement.

According to the Cambridge English dictionary to haggle, means:
“to attempt to decide on a price or conditions which are acceptable to the person selling the goods and the person buying them, usually by arguing: It’s traditional that you haggle over/about the price of things in the market.”

Interestingly, all the definitions of this term imply that some petty arguing is involved in the haggling process, but this is not necessarily so… if you play your cards right this can be avoided. The key is simply a little patience and some determination – you’ll be amazed at the fabulous discounts you can score!

  1. Know the competition – if you can find the garment at a cheaper price elsewhere, let them know and offer the store clerk the opportunity to match the price, or offer a better deal.
  2. Be reasonable – Don’t ask for a 50% discount when the item is clearly worth more.
  3. Go low – Decide what you’re willing to pay for the garment and then offer to pay 10% less. Negotiate towards your original price from there.
  4. Look them in the eye – Be confident and clear about what you want.
  5. Don’t become a pest – Don’t threaten or intimidate. And NEVER use the “Do you know who I am?” line.
  6. Buy in bulk – Find out if the store might offer you a discount if you buy a few of the same items… if so, then grab a few in a variety of colours
  7. Don’t haggle when the store is busy – The store clerk will be distracted and hurried, and you need their full attention.
  8. Be friendly – Address the store clerk by his or her name if they wear a name badge.  If you’re a regular they may even point out the discounted offers before you ask.
  9. Look out for tarnished garments – Which is not to say that you should rip a little tear, or pull off a button.
  10. Be prepared to walk away – A bargain is not worth making enemies or losing a limb over. Somtimes a discount is  just not possible…

Have you had any luck with local retailers and scored yourself a major bargain after a little haggling? Share your story in the comment box below.

* Photo by  Mitarart – Courtesy PhotoXpress

Francine Higham

Francine is a lover of designer flare and originality, but addicted to finding the look for less on the high street. She’s a sucker for a bargain, but willing to spend where quality counts.

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