Haggling on the high street getting harder

A poll by the UK’s biggest consumer website, MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) today reveals shoppers are finding it increasingly tricky to haggle on the high street – the average overall success rate(1) for bartering consumers trying to knock some money off has dropped from 55% to 42% in the past two years.

More than 1,500 shoppers voted in the poll, which asked people whether they have haggled with a variety of high street retailers in the last year and if so, whether they had received a big discount, small discount or no luck.

With those who tried and successfully grabbed a reduction, B&Q, Tesco and Homebase topped the list for 2018. Debenhams and M&S were knocked out of the top 10 along with TK Maxx, which came second in 2016 but didn’t have enough votes(2) for this year’s list, making way for new entrants Asda, Primark and Waitrose(3).

As with the 2016 poll, hagglers had better fortunes at independent and charity shops, but are still seeing worse luck overall. Those who haggled in independent shops reported an 84% success rate, down from 97%, while charity shops had a 69% success rate, down from 77%. Shockingly, 70% of those who responded to this year’s poll had never haggled on the high street, a jump of 8 percentage points since 2016.

Steve Nowottny, news and features editor at MoneySavingExpert.com said: “Sadly it seems to be getting harder to haggle on the high street, with success rates down across the board since we last ran this poll in 2016. Yet don’t let that put you off trying – our poll also shows that at some stores as many as half of those who’ve tried end up walking out of the shop with a better deal.

“Most Brits will happily banter and bargain at an overseas market, but on home turf are notoriously bad at giving it a go. Yet if you don’t ask, you don’t get – the worst the shop assistant can say is ‘no’.

“Think about when and how you haggle. Don’t do it during peak time when the staff are too busy, and equally, it’s easier to haggle out of season – for example, buying a barbeque in the winter. Look for already-discounted items as the retailer has already accepted it won’t get full price. Small flaws in the item can be used as leverage, or you can ask them to beat a competitor’s price. And there’s no harm in asking for freebies, such as accessories for a gadget or a better warranty.”

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. Overall success rate is the 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

See the full MSE news story for more information and for top tips visit MSE’s Haggle on the high street guide.

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Notes to editors:

(1)    For individual retailers with 30+ votes in the poll, plus independent and charity shops.

(2)    The results include only retailers with 30+ votes.

(3)    Primark and Waitrose were discounted from the 2016 poll as they received fewer than 30 votes.