Haggling on the high street

Last Modified 16th of February 2021

Quibbling over a price is something that you might be used to doing at a market or car boot sale but it’s not something we’re used to doing in high street stores. It’s surprising, however, how many retailers are willing to compromise on the cost of goods if your prepared to ask for a discount.

What sort of shops can I haggle for discounts?

The main area where you can save money are electrical goods such as computers, fridges, audiovisual equipment and such like and DIY purchases, however you can get discounts on smaller items if you’re lucky.

You’d be surprised at how many big brand businesses are prepared to knock down their prices: in a recent survey, more than 70% of people who tried haggling at Comet, B&Q and Curry’s successfully managed to negotiate a lower price.

In addition, more than 50% of those polled had saved money on goods they’d purchased from Wickes, John Lewis, Homebase and Debenhams. Even supermarkets were willing to be flexible with their prices, as Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s also recorded strong results for shoppers seeking a discount.

The reason haggling works so well in electrical stores and DIY shops are twofold. Firstly, most of these stores act in a similar manner to wholesale traders, rather than boutique stores that may source items from a number of areas to create the perfect retail appearance. It is commonplace for buyers to haggle in a wholesaler and therefore managers aren’t perturbed by these types of sales tactics being used in their shop.

Secondly, if you’re buying a high value item then the profit margin is much larger than if you were purchasing a low cost product. This means retailers can afford to shave a few pounds off the price and still make a healthy sum on the sale – the phrase ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ sums it up well.

How to haggle

The best way to get a discount on an item you’re buying in a high street store is to be bold and stick to your guns – if you don’t ask for money off, you’re definitely not going to cut the cost! You wouldn’t think twice if it was a house price or a mobile phone contract you were being presented with.

Some people have different techniques for securing a bargain from being aggressive to trying to charm sales personnel into a discount. The best thing with high street stores, however, is to be polite, brave in asking but respectful with the answer they give you. Choose a quiet time of day, too, as when you visit will affect how long the sales assistant can spend negotiating with you.

The result will differ slightly depending on the type of shop you visit. If you’re in a large chain store or franchise, the likelihood is that they’ll be tied into some kind of pricing structure when it comes to cutting prices. If it’s an independent shop though, often you’ll be dealing with the owner and it’ll be at their discretion how much to scrub from the original price.

It’s particularly useful to ask for a discount if you’re buying something at the end of the stock line. Chances are if there are only one or two items left, the shop manager will be looking for a quick sale to clear space for newer models. If there is only the display model left then you may have even better grounds for a discount, as the original packing could have been lost or the product itself could be slightly more ‘worn in’ than if you’d bought it sealed and untouched.

If you’re not happy with haggling for new items at the point of sale, you should still exercise your buying power when it comes to purchasing faulty goods. Many of us will have been in a situation where we’ve gone shopping, fallen in love with an item of clothing but discovered it has a loose thread or a missing button. Should this garment be easily repairable, ask for a discount at the checkout and then mend it yourself when you get home. This applies to both full price items and things that have already been placed on special offer.

Sometimes goods are cheaper on the Internet than the high street, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy them online. Print off the price list and take it into your local store to see if they’ll price match the product you require.

Many shopkeepers will accept discounts for cash payment, so being prepared to put your money where your mouth is can also yield savings.