We should all be less British and start haggling at the supermarket
PUBLISHED: 18:59 21 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:59 21 August 2019
Would you haggle in Homebase or barter in Boots? Rachel Moore thinks we should take advantage of the current state of Britain and question the cost of things with fixed prices
Watching the Brexit debacle screams how our Britishness - what Brexiteers so want to preserve - is hampering progress to any decent deal.
The British are simply rubbish negotiators. At anything. It's an innate trait. We just don't like to ask for a deal.
It's a miracle our business thrives at all given our politeness and cringing embarrassment about talking about money and making a transaction work for us. It's seen as vulgar and brash.
Our meekness in trying our luck is never so blaringly obvious than on the high street. It's like our attitude to queuing. We do what we're told (what's on the price tag) and obey without question.
Apparently 88% of British people would prefer to pay full price than attempt to haggle a discount. Just writing that makes we realise how daft we are to be so reserved, especially now when money is tight for so many.
Coupled with retail in decline and retailers feeling the punch of its biggest decline on record, 2019 really does herald the age of the haggler. If we have the gumption.
If you don't ask, you don't get. Shops need to make sales to survive, and we're all feeling the pinch. Hey presto, the perfect storm for a hagglers market.
Better for a business to get money in than turn away someone trying their luck for a deal.
But it feels awkward asking for a discount on multiple items, money off for cash or for extra to be thrown in for free if you buy an item.
Or it doesn't even occur to most of us. We're British, remember.
I've been far too feeble to 'make a scene' at a counter in Norwich trying to haggle. It doesn't feel 'the thing' to ask for a deal on a washing machine and tumble drier in John Lewis, or buy one get another half price on a pair of shoes and a handbag.
I know I'm missing a trick. I've never been shy at wading in for a good argy-bargy haggle in a Marrakesh souk or Istanbul bazaar, prepared to walk away if the deal doesn't work for me, so why not on my own high street?
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National treasure Martin Lewis, who we all trust for his sage financial advice, reports hagglers having more than 50% success rates in big name chains like B&Q and Tesco. Who knew?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for a discount, he says - in fact, it's built into some shops' official policies, apparently - why don't we do it more?
A former member of staff at one big DIY store had told him staff had been told if anyone even asked for a discount, just to give them 10% off. So staff are briefed and prepared for people trying their luck.
The climate has never been more perfect to introduce a haggling culture to the British high street.
Retail saw "the biggest decline on record" in May, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Sales decreased by 2.7 per cent for the four-week period ending May 25, against an increase of 4.1 per cent in May last year.
Like-for-like sales decreased by three per cent compared to the same period last year, when they had increased by 2.8 per cent from the preceding year - making it the steepest like-for-like decline since December 2008
For some high street businesses, the next six months will mean the difference between staying in business or joining the growing list of retailers closing stores or finishing businesses altogether.
We always have to buy things, but we are looking more at when, where and how we spend.
It's time for both sides of the business formula to embrace haggling as a way of life to get retail going again.
All you need to remember is to haggle with charm and a smile. Aggression gets you nowhere.
Who knows, a bit of bartering could go a long way to saving retail in the UK.
It could make shopping more fun, build relationships and deliver that feel-good punching the air factor of walking out of a shop with a deal
Work would be more fun for shop workers and money will be in the till.