Dubai: Everyone loves a good bargain. But is there an art to knowing how to haggle? If yes, how do you decide when to seek discounts and when it’s not worth bargaining any more than you should? UAE retail researchers and residents weigh in where the line should be drawn when bargain hunting.
“For anyone not used to bargaining, there’s a keen anxiety that comes when shopping for bargains. With every purchase comes the nagging question: ‘Am I being fooled out of my money?’” explained Dr. Khalid Essaye, an Abu Dhabi-based researcher specialised in consumer spending.
“Nowadays, bargain hunting isn’t simply meeting lower prices advertised by competitors, but for the most part, it involves bargaining, haggling or negotiating a lower price with back-and-forth counter offers until a common ground is met or a price is agreed upon with the supplier or retailer.”
How do you decide on the right price when bargaining?
“The key to a good deal is finding the right price. If you know the right price, you can just state your price and your offer can at times be accepted. But try to have a rough understanding of the item's value before you start haggling,” said UAE-based financial planner Andrea Barbara.
“In reality, however, if the seller is expecting a negotiation, the first price they offer will deliberately be higher than they expect you to pay. Keep in mind that if the purchase price is already lower than what you expected to pay, it’s best to avoid eyeing an even bigger discount.”
The rule of thumb is to take the seller’s first price, subtract the amount you expect to pay, and then offer the same difference below the expected price. For example, if you want to pay Dh50 and the seller suggests Dh70, you can suggest Dh30, and you negotiate till you meet in the middle.
Nowadays, bargain hunting involves haggling with back-and-forth counter offers until a common ground is met or a price is agreed upon with the supplier or retailer
Where do you draw the line when haggling for discounts?
“Figuring out what you're willing to pay ahead of time will help you stay on budget. It also frames the negotiation so you can bid strategically,” added Essaye, when asked where one should draw the line when haggling for discounts.
“When you've exhausted options and can't reach a satisfactory deal, a take-it-or-leave-it offer at your limit is an effective final bargaining strategy, since it puts the decision on the other party. If that fails, be willing to walk away.”
So, the more you know what you want to buy and from where, the better you can plan. For example, while you can buy from any flea market with no prep or expertise needed, when planning a trip where you would spend more, it would involve preparing your budget and finances before shopping.
What UAE residents keep in mind when bargain hunting
Dubai resident and homemaker Rebecca Gifford, 45, said that while bargaining has largely helped her stick to a budget, she admitted it’s not always been the case for her. “Haggling for discounts is second-nature to me, but often have to force myself to draw a line not to buy into every discount.
“I have a friend who only brings the exact amount of cash she's willing to spend when she negotiates. I found that to be a prudent way to avoid overspending at first, but I realised that it's really a hindrance. Now a shopping list helps, and I haggle judiciously.”
Jaison Wilson, 37, an Abu Dhabi resident who works as a corporate accountant, is keen in shopping around for discounts, especially for items available from multiple vendors. “I avoid expensive items if I don’t understand the pricing. It’s a myth that more expensive an item, the more important this is.”
Haggling for discounts is second nature to me, but often have to force myself to draw a line not to buy into every discount
Multiple surveys have indicated that while a little over 50 per cent of shoppers globally tried bargaining for a better deal on everyday goods and services in the past three years, nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed revealed that those who haggled were rewarded at least once.
“While bargaining gets you better prices, it is accepted only when negotiating cost of business transactions or property deals like contracts or the purchase price, but not when at commercialised businesses like retailers, restaurants, supermarkets, or pharmaceuticals,” added Barbara.
“Bargain hunting can be a great way to save money, but it's important to set a budget, be patient, check for quality, and beware of scams. Also, be aware of warning signs for taking things too far, such as impulse buying, overspending, hoarding, and shopping addiction.”