No haggling please, we’re British

Quite frankly, the idea of haggling in a UK high street store sends shivers down my spine. As a reserved English girl, quibbling over price in a busy shop seems rude, brash and embarrassingly un-British. 

But whilst we Brits love to say yes (as well as apologise repeatedly), according to my research on negotiation skills there are actually some occasions when it’s ok to say no. So, without further ado, here are our top 10 places it’s acceptable to haggle in the UK.

1) Technology

Unless you are a technology geek you are unlikely to be buying TVs and laptops on a regular basis, so when you do splash the cash on a big purchase you want to make sure you get the most for your money. Luckily, high value products are more likely to be discounted than low value, so haggling is well worth the risk of a red face. Look for ex-display stock or outdated models which might have imperfections, and if possible offer to pay in cash. Sometimes you won’t get money off, but you might get an accessory thrown in instead.

2) Independent stores

Independent stores are the ideal place to test out your haggling skills. The store owner will have ultimate say over the final price, so see if you can negotiate an offer- particularly on expensive goods with a higher mark-up.

3) Supermarkets

Success rate is probably pretty low when haggling over full priced goods in Asda or Tesco, but discounted produce is another story. Towards the end of the day- usually past 6pm- the magic ‘reduced’ stickers start appearing, and at this point everything is fair game. As store closing time approaches, make offers on items that are going out of date- staff will usually accept a low price just so they don’t go to waste.

Tip: Don’t forget to look for voucher codes when you do your food shop.

4) Markets

Phew, familiar territory. Markets, jumble sales and even butcher shops are the only places that British people are usually comfortable haggling in (since you are practically expected to ask for a discount before purchasing an item anyway). But don’t forget to dress down- you’ll probably get a better price if you aren’t shamelessly flashing your Mulberry handbag and Barbour jacket.

5) Mobile and broadband

We’ve all seen those juicy mobile and broadband offers on TV, but the best deals are almost always reserved for new customers. Blasé consumers who stay with the same brand for years are gold dust to businesses, since they often keep paying full price without checking for a better offer. Don’t be taken for granted- call up and negotiate a new plan, and if they won’t budge then threaten to leave for a rival.

6) Car dealerships

Everyone knows to haggle over the price of second hand cars (we may be British but we aren’t stupid!) but what about new models? According to experts, you can often get a good deal on a car before the introduction of new registration plates or when a manufacturer brings out a new model. And where possible, try to offer cash or a cheque on the spot to increase your chances of a better deal. 

7) DIY stores

According to research by Money Saving Expert, one former employee of a large DIY store said they’d been told to offer a 10% discount if anyone asked for one- ka-ching! Experts say that the closer a store feels to a trade environment the more likely it is for people to haggle, so next time you are in B&Q or Homebase try your luck, particularly on large items like garden furniture.

8) Travel agents

The perfect time to haggle over a package holiday is either last minute or more than 9 months in advance. By booking late- ideally a week before you want to leave- you can grab yourself a bargain on empty rooms that would otherwise make a loss (just make sure you aren’t picky about destination). And if you enquire well in advance, you can benefit from early booking discounts. Don’t forget, play different travel agents off against each other- with a smile of course- to wrangle an even better bargain.

Tip: Check out our travel vouchers to see if you could get extra money off.

9) Clothes shops

Haggling in a clothes shop may seem like an exercise in humiliation, BUT if you are savvy you might actually get lucky. The trick here is to negotiate at the end of an existing sale, since items that have already been reduced in price are more likely to get a further discount- the shop will be happy to get rid of old stock at a profit. Damaged or marked goods are also prime targets; often you can get 10% off an imperfect item.

10) Estate agents

Negotiating on house price is par for the course in the UK, but it pays to do your research first- for example visiting the Land Registry website, checking out Rightmove and finding out how long the property has been on the market for. And don’t forget that you can haggle on rental properties too, particularly in big cities like London.

So there we have it, 10 places it’s perfectly acceptable to haggle in the UK (as long as you don’t let your famous British reserve get in the way!) We’d love to hear your tips for negotiating, so get in touch and we will publish our favourites.

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