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Wednesday 24th July 2024

How to save money on your purchases by haggling

Nick Daws discusses how to master the art of haggling and save money in the UK shopping scene


Haggling might seem like an ancient practice, reserved for bustling bazaars or flea markets in distant lands. But it’s a skill that can serve you well in everyday life, even in the modern shopping landscape of the UK. 

Whether you’re negotiating the price of a car, angling for a better deal on a holiday package, or even bargaining for a discount at your local high street store, mastering the art of haggling can lead to substantial savings. 

So, if you’re aiming to stretch your pounds a little further, here’s how to become a savvy haggler in the UK…

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Research, research, research!

Before you embark on any haggling expedition, arm yourself with information. Research the product or service you’re interested in buying, including its market value, typical retail price, and any promotions or discounts currently available.

Websites, forums, and price comparison tools can be invaluable resources for gathering this information. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to negotiate a favourable deal.

Pick your battles wisely

While haggling can be effective in many situations, it’s not always appropriate or feasible. Large chain stores and supermarkets, for example, may have strict pricing policies that leave little room for negotiation.

On the other hand, independent retailers, boutique shops, and local businesses are often more open to haggling, especially if you’re making a significant purchase or buying multiple items. Use your judgement to determine when and where haggling is likely to be successful.

Timing is everything

Timing can play a crucial role in the success of your haggling efforts. Try to avoid peak shopping times when sales staff are busy and less inclined to engage in negotiations.

Instead, visit stores during quieter periods when staff may have more time to dedicate to individual customers.

Additionally, keep an eye out for end-of-season sales, clearance events, or times when retailers may be more willing to offer discounts to clear inventory.

Choose the right person

Try to pick the right person to haggle with. The best is a supervisor or assistant manager, as they will have more discretion. The ‘big boss’ may not be as good, though. He or she will be pressed for time and may not be so bothered about a single sale.

Don’t rush

Take your time and aim to build rapport. Don’t even talk about price for the first five minutes. Ask the salesperson a few questions to show you are genuinely interested in buying, and explain why you need the product in question. Tell them your name, and ask for theirs.

Master the art of persuasion

Effective haggling requires more than just asking for a lower price. You need to be persuasive and present a compelling case for why you deserve a discount. 

Highlight any flaws or imperfections in the product, mention comparable prices from competitors, or point out any loyalty or repeat business you can offer. 

Be polite but firm, and don’t be afraid to walk away (or pretend to) if you’re not getting the deal you want. Sometimes the threat of losing a sale can be enough to sway a reluctant seller.

Use stock phrases

Stock phrases can be invaluable if you’re nervous about haggling. ‘What’s the best price you can do on this?’ is one popular option (used regularly on TV shows like Bargain Hunt). ‘I like this but it’s over my budget. Can you do it for £80?’ [or whatever is your target price] is another.

Negotiate more than just price

While price is usually the main focus of haggling, there are other aspects of a transaction that can be negotiated as well.

Consider asking for free delivery, extended warranties, upgrades or additional accessories to sweeten the deal. If you’re buying in bulk or making a significant purchase, retailers may be more willing to throw in extras to secure your business.

Practice makes perfect

Like any skill, haggling takes practice to master. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts are unsuccessful. Learn from each experience, refine your approach, and keep honing your negotiating skills.

With time and persistence, you’ll become a confident and effective haggler, saving money on your purchases and getting the best possible deals.

Closing thoughts

Haggling may not be as common in the UK as it is in some other parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s off limits.

With the right approach and a bit of confidence, you can successfully negotiate lower prices, discounts and added benefits on a wide range of purchases. 

So the next time you’re shopping, don’t be afraid to flex your haggling muscles and see just how much you can save!

As always, if you have any comments to share about this post, please do leave them below.

Nick Daws writes for Pounds and Sense, a UK personal finance blog aimed especially (though not exclusively) at over-fifties.

Photo credits: Pexels

Nick Daws

Mouthy Blogger

Nick Daws is a semi-retired freelance writer and editor. He is the author of over 30 non-fiction books, including Start Your Own Home-Based Business and The Internet for Writers. He lives in Burntwood, Staffordshire, where he has been running his personal finance blog at Poundsandsense.com for over seven years.

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