Secrets of Harmonious Haggling

Haggling in a retail store is one of the last taboos. Unless you’re buying a big-ticket item, it can feel humiliating to tell a salesperson you’re only willing to buy something at a lower price than the store is advertising: you fear you'll look cheap. 

ince the economic downturn, however, haggling has become more acceptable, especially if you have a smartphone. But you can still be an effective haggler if you don’t have a smartphone, or in situations where you can't use it. And of course, haggling is a longstanding tradition at flea markets and garage sales. Try the tips below to become a happy (and effective) haggler!

* Effective haggling takes practice. You may have to try it a few times before you feel confident about doing it, or before you’re successful at negotiating a reduced price. View your first attempts as practice, and if your spiel or approach isn’t effective, change it the next time.

* If the item you’re haggling for is available elsewhere, research the price before you start haggling. It's important that you can truthfully tell the seller you could buy it more cheaply somewhere else - obviously this is where shopping apps coming in handy, but you can also research on the internet and by ringing around.

* Create a rapport with the seller before you start to negotiate. Make eye contact and greet them in a friendly way. Don't rush them, but at the same time, if they're obviously busy, wait for a lull in the customer traffic.

* Be absolutely confident you are willing to pay the price you offer for the item. If you're making a low offer, you need to be willing to follow through.

* If you’re expecting a discount,  offer the seller something in return. This could be loyalty, word-of-mouth advertising, bulk purchasing, or buying an additional product. Offering to pay cash is an obvious incentive for retailers to accept a lower price.

* Don’t haggle if you want the item very badly, or you know it has limited availability. Only haggle for items you’re prepared to walk away from, and make it clear that you are willing to walk away.

* Don’t haggle if you know the price of the item is already rock-bottom. To be successful, you need to feel justified in your haggling!

Don't be afraid to haggle at secondhand stores. Traditionally haggling hasn't been the done thing at op shops (thrift stores) but it's becoming more acceptable as prices have risen; however, I'd suggest only doing it if you think an item is grossly overpriced. You can also haggle at upmarket recycled fashion stores. A friend of mine spotted a sequinned George Gross dress in one of these stores that looked fantastic when she tried it on. The price tag was $100 but my friend managed to bargain down the saleswoman to $60, although the dress was retailing for $900 in George Gross stores. 

Part of the reason why haggling is embarrassing is because we often shop to express our status and wield power. Haggling suggests that we don’t have the money to pay the listed price. But these days most of us are trying to save money. If you can get over the initial embarrassment, you could find yourself saving money throughout the year rather than just at sale time, and even enjoying your haggling.

Until next time!

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