When does it pay to haggle? Almost always, according to Consumer Reports magazine. According to a past national (US) survey, 88 per cent of people who tried to negotiate for a better price ended up scoring a deal.

The study found that men are more likely than women to haggle over price (30 per cent compared with 25 per cent). And 37 per cent of people under the age of 34 are more likely to do so, compared with only 13 per cent of people over 65.

While not everyone is comfortable with bargaining, even a small discount can add up when you consider the potential savings over the entire holiday season. And even if you don’t succeed in scoring a discount on the price, you may get an item thrown in for free, particularly if you’re buying several items.

If you’re thinking to give it a go, here are Consumer Report‘s tips for success.

8 tips to score a deal

Know before you go. Take the time to do your research. Compare prices and store policies before you head out to the shops, and take along any evidence of potentially better deals such as web printouts, flyers and ads. Many stores will match — or beat — other advertised deals.

Time your visit. Sales people are typically in a more bargaining mood later in the month when they are trying to meet their quotas.

Find fixable flaws. If a product has blemishes you can live with, show them to the seller and ask for a reduced price.

Be patient and nice. Turn on the charm — and keep in mind that being too assertive or demanding a discount rarely works. And to increase your chances for success, don’t ask for a price that is way too low.

Avoid an audience. When negotiating, it’s important to pick a moment when you can have some privacy. Clerks don’t want all of the customers to follow your lead and ask for a deal.

Ask for a manager if the sales clerk does not have the power to offer a discount.

Offer cash. Some small or independent merchants may offer a discount in lieu of paying credit card transaction fees.

Be willing to walk. Remember that in all negotiations, the most persuasive tactic you have is an ability to spend your hard earned cash someplace else.

Last of all, remember the old adage: You can’t succeed if you don’t try!

Do you have a bargaining tactic that has worked for you? Share your tips in the comments.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Denis Pepin

READ MORE
20 ways to trim your holiday budget
Snag off-season travel deals
Holidays without gifts?
Entertaining on a budget
12 frugal tips for the holiday season

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by:
Cynthia Ross Cravit