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How to Negotiate Prices at Retail Stores

You don’t have to be at a yard sale to do a littler haggling. Did you know you can actually negotiate prices at retail stores? Use this thrifty trick to save on your next purchase—no matter where you make it!

Of course retail stores won’t ever admit to haggling. Tell a clerk at Best Buy that you really like that $800 television but only have $700 and he’ll probably just laugh. That’s not to say, however, you can’t get that exact TV for $700—or less.

The key to negotiating prices at retail stores and getting yourself a better deal is to build rapport with somebody working at the store. Ask for help with the item you want to purchase and ask lots of questions. Then, get interested in the person helping you. Even if the clerk doesn’t work on commission, if you’re friendly enough, they may just help you out.

Once you’ve chatted for a few minutes, mention that you really like the item you’re looking at but just can’t justify the cost. Don’t say anything else, and see what the clerk says. You might just get lucky. He or she might know of a coupon code or other discount available, or even offer to apply his or her employee discount.

If you don’t have any luck, ask the clerk if there are any sales coming up that would reduce the price of the item. If there is, sometimes a clerk can apply the discount early. Be persistent but friendly.

Negotiating prices at retail stores won’t always work, but if you have the gumption, it’s always worth a try. Have you had any luck negotiating the price of an item at a chain retail store? How did you do it?

Published or updated on August 5, 2009

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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  1. Alexandra says:

    Just 2 days ago I was able to save $399 on a furniture piece. The funny thing that before I went to find a sales person, I asked my husband if he’d agree to buy a media center for your TV that was priced for $899 (sale price) if he’d be willing to buy for $500? He said “Yes, but they aren’t going to do it”. I said : “Let me ask them” and then I did my magic talked to a sales person for more than 5 minutes. Became friendly with her and then pointed out why they shouldn’t hold on their floor a piece of furniture that’s been discontinued.

    Ten minutes later the sales person approached me and said : “They will do it for $500” I could hardly keep my emotions from my husband. I wanted to yell “Look at me the master negotiator”

  2. anthony says:

    working at a large chain retailer for 18 months really opened my eyes to how easy it is to ask for discounts on merchandise. this post is rather thin on specifics, here’s what i would suggest:

    – managers can give you a discount, the front line floor employees can’t.
    – you generally want to position yourself in a way that suggests “i want to buy this, but…”. the “but” is your leverage. does the chair you want have a minor imperfection in the fabric? is the box to the item damaged? if you want to pay less than 100% of the cost, try to establish that the item is less than 100% perfect in some way.
    – timing is important. if the store is packed on a weekend afternoon, the employees don’t have any reason to spend time bargaining with you. if you’re the only one in the store 30 minutes before closing on a tuesday night, you’ll get a lot more attention.
    – managers can look up any item and see exactly how much it cost the company to purchase and ship that item to the sales floor. therefore, the manager has more information than you do when it comes to negotiation. if they won’t budge below a certain price, it’s not because they’re playing hardball, it’s because they know the exact amount at which they’d lose money on a sale.
    – 10% is, in general, the amount they will knock off for you. trying to get more than that is pushing it. 10% is the boundary between accommodating a savvy shopper and dealing with a pushy shopper.
    – although employees see thousands of customers a week, any abnormal behavior will make you stand out. if you go to the same store repeatedly and try to haggle, you’ll be “that customer” and will likely see diminishing returns on your efforts.

  3. M.Wanzer says:

    I myself have never been able to get a good deal that I wanted. My mom on the other hand is a master at this. She went with me to buy my 2nd car and got them to come down to 9K from 12,900, I was shocked. I always felt like you can not negotiate with people at stores like Best Buy, but only at Mom and Pop stores. My mom has definitely proved me wrong on this. On thing she always says to me is never take a no from someone who probably does not have the power to give you a yes. She has often times got the results she wants by going past the sales clerk and talking directly to a manager.

  4. This is especially important on big purchases. Just yesterday I purchased a large quantity of patio pavers for my backyard. After talking to the manager I was able to knock off 10%, saving me about $130.00.

    You would be suprized how often simply finding the courage to ask for a discount will pay off.

    -Dan Malone-

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