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How to haggle on the high street and online

Jasmine Birtles 14th Mar 2017 2 Comments

Reading Time: 8 minutes
You can find out how to haggle on the high street and how to haggle online quite easily. It doesn’t take a lot – just a bit of knowledge and some practice.
It takes a bit of front but anyone can do it if they know how. Here’s our guide to haggling like pros!



How can you start haggling on the high street?

Three women stood on the high street looking in shopping bags excitedly

You need a bit of front, a hide like a rhino and the determination (with a smile) to get at least a bit of a discount, or maybe something thrown in for free, in any shop you enter.

It’s about asking the question “can I get a discount on this please” every time you get to the cash till, and that includes online purchases!

You can save money on anything from clothing to electronics, homewares and sports equipment. There are just a few simple, easy steps involved.


Before you start haggling…


Pick your product.

Woman using tablet to do online shopping

First of all, you need to know what you want. Work shirt. Camera. Futon. Even games and DVDs can vary greatly in prices.

Anything can be bought online these days, but it’s great to also check high street stores to see what you will physically be buying.

Some goods have more lee-way on price than others. For example, electronic goods generally have a very small profit margin so it’s hard to get money off, but you can usually get free delivery thrown in if you ask.


Do your research

Older woman using laptop

If you can find the price online with a specific company, you can use it to print and take it to a high street shop, which will (most of the time) match or even discount the price you give them.

Even if you’d rather buy from one online site than another, but their price is higher, give them a call and tell them. Chances are they too will match your price. if there isn’t a number, get onto the chat room and talk to their customer services person about getting a discount.


Get the specifics

When you’re after something like a couch or camera, you need to do some research and find out exactly what you want, mainly because there’s just so much on offer.

Begin with the product name, or, if you know you want a specific brand, have a look at their website first and note down the product number, colour, size, and anything that will define what you want from the other similar products.


Read reviews

Woman beside a star rating system graphic

‘Word on the street’ is the easiest way to find out whether the product you’re after is good quality.

See what your techie friends have heard, and what online reviews by consumers are saying.

Someone will have always played with a gadget, bought that piece of carpet or flounced around in the dress you’re after, and yes, they will always have an opinion about it.

Some sites also have ratings systems such as stars out of five or percentages on the quality of specific items.


Pick your store

Some shops are better than others at giving discounts.

Ask your friends, put out questions on Facebook and Twitter to see which ones regularly give discounts if you ask.

For example, I find that ‘Office’ is a great shoe shop for giving you 10% off if you ask. Others will just stare at you blankly. It helps to start with the easier ones!


Get that discount


Just ask – will they give you a discount?

Sometimes they might offer 5% but don’t accept the first offer. Smile sweetly and ask for 10%. That’s not a huge amount for most shops. They should be able to do that easily.

Remember, nothing is etched in stone, and in this credit crunch crises, shops out there would rather make a lower sale than none at all.

There are loads of ways out there to get up to 60% off your purchases when you master the grand art of haggling, find out how to here, but here’s a few other ways to get good discounts.



Gift voucher


If you have a voucher for what you’re buying, of course you will instantly get some money off.

But it doesn’t have to end there. If they’ll give you money off with the voucher they could give you an extra discount if you ask…just ask!

There are loads of new vouchers that you can simply print off online all the time.

A handy tip is to put the name of the company/website you are using plus the word ‘voucher’ or ‘discount’ or ‘discount code’ into your browser before getting to the checkout to see if there is a code you can use right now.


Six tips for effective haggling

Get shops – from the high street to independents – to give you a better deal:


1. Flattery will get you anywhere.

Woman smiling while getting money out of a purse to pay in a shop

No, truly. Butter them up and they will melt in your hands. Salespeople are treated badly, so when a nice customer comes along the salesperson will have a more positive outlook and want to help the customer. Developing a good relationship is not difficult. It begins with a smile and being polite.

‘Excuse me please? Hi! I’m looking at this TV/radio/CD player and I was wondering if you could help me?!’


2. Get add-ons for free or cheaper.

Free Printer

Shops can be more willing to give you something extra for a lesser price or even for free if you pay full price for the main item. Buy a computer and you will need a printer; buy a bike and get a helmet; buy a TV and get a DVD recorder. It’s about buying in bulk – that’s why supermarkets have a lot of BOGOF (buy one get one free) offers – giving you a percentage off the second item costs them less than cutting the price of one item.


3. Try a different method of payment.

Woman looking at money in her hand quizzically

When you purchase something larger most salespeople assume you will pay by credit, but if you can afford to pay the balance straight away – by cash/cheque/debit – you can use it as a leveraging tool when haggling.

These days it can be just as cheap to use credit, or the companies won’t care because they can afford it, so don’t be discouraged if they won’t bring the price down for cash – try another way.


4. Go on the right day, at the right time.

calendar graphic

Shops can be more willing to give you better deals when they are having a slow day or haven’t made many sales.

It’s a good idea to go when the shop is quiet before new stock comes in. Sometimes shops get stock in during the week so a Monday may be quiet. Ask the sales assistant when new stock is due and time your visit.

Pick the time of day as well – don’t go in the morning when they’ve just opened.

Timing can also mean the life cycle of the product. You have more chance of getting a higher discount when goods are on sale or past their high season by just asking if you can ‘help’ get rid of the sale item.


5. Embrace the power of the person.

get a job

Store assistants and managers will have a lot more bargaining power and be ‘in the know’ than new recruits and general staff. If you can, try to talk to those that can help you get a better deal.


6. Play chicken

chickens - free eggs

Show that you’re willing to walk away and try somewhere else, because you don’t believe they’re going to give you the best price, if they don’t care then it’s good to take your business elsewhere.


7. Smile!

Young black man smiling widely

Whether they say yes or no, stay pleasant and be friendly, particularly if you would like to come back to that shop later. It’s tough for everyone, particularly shop owners, so be nice and you’re likely to get more in the long-run!


how to haggle online

More and more people are using their haggling skills online as well as on the high street.

You’d be surprised how many sites will negotiate if you ask.

Middle aged man using Laptop and drinking from a mug

how to haggle online step by step:

There are two main ways you can haggle online:

  1. Leave your item in the checkout and wait. Many websites have software that tells them who has left something at the checkout (actually it tells them a whole lot more than that but that’s for another article!) so they know that you have done that. Pretty quickly it’s likely that they will email you and ask why you haven’t bought the product. That’s your opportunity to tell them – ever so nicely – that you would LOVE to buy their product but it’s just a bit beyond your budget. Ideally – using the tips above – you have already researched the product elsewhere and can point to another site, or even a high street shop, that offers it at a cheaper price or gives free delivery or an extra etc. Say that you would love to buy it from them but…er….could they help you out with a discount? Say 20% They might then offer 10% or 15% or free delivery or something to get you to buy. It’s worth a try!
  2. Use the company’s customer service chat room. While you’re buying – or if they don’t get back to you when you leave the item at the checkout – get in touch with customer services and use the tips above to negotiate a discount, a freebie or even a two-for-the-price-of-one offer. It’s similar to chatting in the shop but, as they can’t see your face, it’s a good idea to be even more friendly and polite here.


If you want to see Jasmine haggling in action, check out her haggling article at the Guardian website.


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A.A. Roy
A.A. Roy
2 years ago

Love the new Moneysaver column but one comment on your task for haggling: Using cash, not cards, gets you a helluva better deal. Even in the travel agent, cash really is king, I’ve done it; although I appreciate the need for some travellers to need the refund protection offered by credit cards. Elsewhere, even in Tesco, Lidl and Waitrose, I have secured small discounts by using cash at the manned tills (not the auto tills) and small discounts add up to big. Haggling (I accept your comments, but-) does not do so well online as on the High Street or… Read more »

2 years ago
Reply to  A.A. Roy

How can you haggle at the Tesco etc. tills? It seems impossible

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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