HR & Management

Published

Britain is a nation of hagglers, but how is it done and where can Brits go for experience?

6 Mins

Over half of adults were more likely to haggle on an advertised price now than they were in 2011, according to new research. This was echoed by a report released by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in March that revealed almost half of those who bought something worth more than £100 in the past two years tried haggling to get a better price – and the vast majority succeeded. What’s more, in some cases freebies were thrown in by the supplier to seal the deal.

A BIS spokesperson said it had commissioned the study to allow ministers to “truly understand the consumer landscape”. What they ended up discovering was that the UK was a nation of hagglers, despite British people having a reputation for thinking that asking for a lower price may be impolite. According to financial psychologist and author of “Taming the Pound”, Kim Stephenson, it’s because we don’t like social discomfort and are afraid of looking silly. Yet people in the UK have even tried to reduce the cost of their energy bills using this method.

Steve Nowottny, consumer and features editor of MoneySavingExpert, said it was “encouraging” that British consumers were getting the hang of haggling.

After all, haggling seems to be compulsory in some countries – or so Brian found out in Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, suggested that people were throwing cash away by not haggling. It’s a “don’t ask, don’t get” situation. After all, if a store yesterday offered a 20 per cent off voucher, it can still afford to sell to you at that discounted price today. More crucially, was the fact that it could be done in a high street store. Shoppers just need to know where to go to have the most success. 

He added: “The evidence is plain if you’re buying digital or DIY products it’s always worth seeing if you can knock the prices down – with Carphone Warehouse, Currys, B&Q and Homebase topping the poll. Yet even at John Lewis – the pin-up store for middle England – over 50 per cent of people who try to haggle report winning. In some ways, that’s not surprising. After all, if you promise ‘never knowingly undersold’, that is virtually an invitation to haggle in the first place.”

Read more about retailers:

The statistics come from a survey that unveiled the best high street retailers that you would have the best success of haggling with.

Carphone Warehouse topped the list with a 61 per cent success rate. This can be verified by the ever famous search engine Google and the list of great deals pasted onto the internet that people had managed to attain through haggling.

This was followed bp Currys/PC World with a 58 per cent success rate, followed by Homebase at 54 per cent. The latter has featured on the list in 2013 as well, with 73 per cent of those who bartered over price managing to get discounts at the DIY giant.

John Lewis was in fourth place with 54 per cent, wHILE B&Q maintaining the same figure. This was followed by Tesco’s 41 per cent success rate. M&S was in seventh place with 40 per cent, trailing in front of both Debenhams (34 per cent) and Clarks (32 per cent).

It should be noted that while larger retailers such as M&S probably won’t throw cut-prices at you, equally, there might be a preference to offer a five or ten per cent discount, free installation, or free delivery if you are looking to spend £500 on an oven or fridge freezer. After all, these companies don’t want you to leave the store with your money still in your pocket.

The key to haggling, Lewis maintained, was to do some thorough research. This means knowing what a good value price is before you start. It was also suggested that the time in which you choose to haggle is crucial. For example, aim for a quiet day instead of a busy Saturday.

Also, stay away from junior sales staff members. He claimed they while had no discretion, similarly, senior employees typically did not have the time. “A mid-level supervisor is great,” Lewis said.

His most emphasised piece of advice, however, was that customers should target items that are already discounted or on sale, because the retailer may be open to further reductions. If it was on sale but that offer has now ended, you know they are willing to accept that lower price.

Share this story

Sustainability might be a buzz word, but Ricoh’s focus on bees shows benefit of agenda
Mini nom nom’s: The fears and thrills of going to market with a healthy food brand
Send this to a friend