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High street haggling getting harder - but here's where you're most likely to bag a discount

Shoppers are finding it increasingly tricky to haggle on the high street, with the average success rate dropping from 55% to just 42% in the past two years, a MoneySavingExpert poll reveals. But if you're willing to give haggling a go, it can still help slash prices at many stores - here's how to boost your chances. 

More than 1,500 users voted in our latest poll - as in 2016, we asked shoppers if they'd tried to haggle on the high street in the past 12 months, which shops they'd tried it at and if they'd bagged a big or small discount or had no luck. The results reveal major changes:

  • The average proportion of shoppers who successfully haggled a discount fell - from 55% in 2016 to 42% in 2018 (for individual retailers with 30+ votes in our polls, plus independent and charity shops).

  • Haggling success rates also dropped at nine of our current top 10 retailers - at Carphone Warehouse, for example, success rates fell by a whopping 29 percentage points. Only at Asda have haggling success rates remained steady. 

  • Asda, Primark and Waitrose are now among the top 10 most haggle-friendly stores. B&Q, Tesco and Homebase topped the list. Debenhams and M&S have dropped out of the top 10, while TK Maxx, which made the top 10 in 2016, did not attract enough votes this year to be included.

See our Haggle on the High Street guide for our full set of haggling tips. 

What did the latest poll show?

As in our 2016 poll, MoneySavers reported great success at independent shops and charity shops. Those who tried to haggle in independent shops had had at least one success in 84% of cases, while there was a 69% success rate at charity shops. (Both figures were down from 2016 though, when the success rate was 97% and 77% respectively). 

Over two thirds (70%) of respondents to this year's poll told us they hadn't tried to haggle on the high street at all in the past 12 months - a jump of 8 percentage points compared to the 2016 results. But among those who'd tried, these were the top 10 retailers:

Top 10 retailers for haggling

Retail chain  Overall success rate (1) Overall success rate in 2016
1. B&Q 57%   60%
2. Tesco 54%  62%
3. Homebase 49%  69%
4. Currys / PC World  49%  60%
5. John Lewis 49%  72%
6. Carphone Warehouse 48%  77%
7. Primark 40%  44%
8. Clarks 38%  47%
9. Waitrose 38%  60%
10. Asda 37%  37%

1,575 people voted in Nov 2018. Includes only retailers with 30+ votes. (1) Proportion of shoppers who tried to haggle a given retailer and were given either a big or small discount. 

For a detailed breakdown of all brands see the full poll results

How to haggle on the high street

Most importantly, always be polite and charming when haggling, you’re trying to win the member of staff over to your side and being friendly goes a long way. Remember, you have no right to a discount, just as they have no right to your custom. If the price isn’t right simply don’t buy it and go elsewhere, don’t berate the staff member for not reducing it.

For full info on the best way to haggle yourself a discount, see our Haggle on the high street guide - but here are some tips to start you off: 

  • Pick your time. An empty Wednesday will be more successful than the Saturday before Christmas.

  • Pick your staff member. Don't go for someone too junior with no discretion, or someone too senior with no time. A mid-level supervisor is great.

  • Use discounts as leverage. If it's already discounted, the door is open to reductions - so why not ask to push it further?

  • Last one left? Offer to "help them clear their shelves for restocking".

  • Check previous sale prices. If it was part of a sale which has now ended, you know they're willing to accept that price.

  • Buy counter-seasonally. Barbecues are often easier to haggle on in November.

  • You've better odds if bulk-buying. If you're buying more than one product, a bulk-buy haggle is often easier – make a discount a condition of buying more.

  • Spotted a flaw?  A loose button etc is a red flag to massively boost haggle power.

  • Check internet prices. Play stores against each other, asking them to beat prices.

  • Ask for freebies. If you're buying anything that has accessories (eg, a floor lamp) then ask them to throw those in for free (eg, the light bulbs). It's an easy haggle.

What do high street shops say?

Neither B&Q or Tesco responded to requests for comment, but Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) which represents independent shops, said: "Independent retailers being customer friendly is no surprise to BIRA.

"Independents are not bound by corporate policies and will make decisions much quicker based on the needs of their business and, most importantly, the needs of their customers."

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