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From Marrakech to…Manchester?

 

Posted At: 08 October 2008 11:50 AM
Related Categories: General

 

Though a tradition still prevalent in China, Turkey and Egypt, haggling has been absent from the high streets of western Europe and the USA for many years now.

‘Bartering for bargain’ at the fruit and veg market was common practice in my parents’ day, but we seem to have been shoehorned into this cage of obedience as the rise of the credit card (see, you thought I was going to say crunch, tut tut) and luxury aspirational advertising take hold.
 
Not anymore!  

A recent report by Experian reveals that 57% of British adults now say they are more likely than they were 12 months ago to try and negotiate a discount on an advertised price.
Not surprisingly, the [yawn] ‘economic downturn’ is cited as a reason for this, as well as the rising cost of ‘every day goods’. Interestingly, the majority of participants said they were most comfortable haggling with technology retailers (though I question how many ‘everyday goods’ fall into this category!), and men are much better at dickering1 than women. (My only experience of haggling occurred in
Morocco, where a thrifty market trader suggested my mother sell me to him in exchange for some prize camels, so I’m happy to leave the haggling to the men, thanks)

Truth be told, even though the report suggests that we can save money by bargaining in this country as well as the next, I just can’t see myself in Currys.digital asking for a couple of hundred quid off that nice new LCD TV that I so desperately need. Moreover, if it’s true that many retailers are willing to give a discount to the confident few who ask (across all segments, from electronics to grocery), is it true that they are overpricing their goods in the first place? It’s very confusing, and I for
one am not keen on factoring this market tradition into an already lengthy checkout process in my favourite high street stores. If the price on the tag is the true value of the item, then this is the figure I either will or will not pay. I’d like price tags to reflect reality, not ‘ball park figures’, please, so that I can just finish my shopping and get on with my day!

 

1A brilliant word I discovered today meaning ‘bargaining or bartering’! Quite apt for the description of any male activity, I feel.

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Comments...

Hi Colin, thank you for your comment. Of course you are right; value is certainly objective, and my anti-haggling attitude is definitely what retailers are relying on, but I don’t necessarily think it’s right to set prices in the hope that people just won’t bother arguing with them. More fool those who don’t haggle? I suppose its basic economics; if demand for that item goes down, then so does the price! I also agree that price positioning is a tricky business. As a consumer at present, I’m secretly grinning, knowing that other factors are starting to come into play. It’s no longer a retailers market; bartering has gone to a whole new level, with things like mysupermarket.com allowing the masses to dictate price levels, sparking wave after wave of price wars. Whether we (as a whole) actually understand that 'price' can't just reflect manufacturing costs, I’m not really sure, but I do hope that we don’t get so greedy we cut off our noses to spite our faces!



"If the price on the tag is the true value of the item, then this is the figure I either will or will not pay" - Have you ever thought about the true value of an item. Its what someone is willing to pay, simple as that. There is no real true value. If you make a hideously designed car, for example and it costs you £5,000 to build, if no one likes it, and no one wants it for the £6000 you are asking, then it wont sell, so whats it worth, nothing! If someone offers you £3,000 for it, you will probably take it. If someone offers you £8000 later cos they happen to love it, was it over or under priced in the first place. Everything has a value only to an individual who wants it. No one seems to realise this, yet its the first thing a professional sales person learns, along with "nothing moves until something is sold". Hope this helps with yoru bartering dilema. Basically, bartering is a way of preventing the seller making as much as he initially wanted to make. They rley on your lasiness. But its not all easy for them. They have to choose a price to advertise that they risk getting beaten by, or offering a heavily discounted item that they may make a loss on in order to get you into the shop. Sony are reported to make a loss on every PS3 sold, so it truloy is a bargain to buy right now. Why do they do that, you may ask, well its because they will make a fortune on the games they sell for it which have a super high margin, plus on line sales of virtual stuff etc.



I tried this with a trolley full of shopping in Tesco once, I said I'd like to offer them £45 for the £50 of shopping theyd just rung through the till. I pointed out it would probably cost them that to restock all my items if I didn't buy them. They just called security.




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