Tricks of the Trade

24 03 2008

An article published in the NYT yesterday revealed that one of the earliest shopping techniques is making a comeback. Not that haggling ever really left, but it is definitely not thought of as common practice in any of the places that I shop. This article says that the notion of bargaining down the price is becoming increasingly popular in major retail outlets. According to the article, retail historian from the Harvard Business School Nancy Koehn says that haggling in department stores used to be commonplace, before stores adopted fixed pricing in the 1850s. But with technology-enabled price comparison and online negotiating, the retail salesforce is quietly being allowed more freedoms to negotiate prices with customers. The downward spiraling economy has also put more power in the consumers’ hands when it comes to price negotiating. There are examples of in the article of people who’ve successfully “haggled” down the prices of large and small ticket items, from big screen televisions at well-known retailers such as Best Buy, to things such as rugs and clothing. Koehn blames the “ebay phenomenon.” She says that ten years ago people didn’t like to haggle, and they thought they weren’t any good at it. But using ebay has boosted confidence. I am not sure I agree with her. Bidding for something on ebay is quite different than negotiating face to face with someone. First of all, price negotiations go on all the time. Didn’t today JP Morgan increase they offer to buy Bear Stearns to $10 a share in order to appease shareholders? That’s price negotiating. Paying below sticker when you buy a car. Making an offer on a house. These are all instances in which people are haggling. I was in New York a few months ago, and my roommate and I made a few purchases from street vendors. We never paid what they asked initially. It’s all part of haggling. My confidence in haggling is pretty limited when I am negotiating with someone face to face about a purchase. Whereas on ebay, I have no problem making a bid on something. That being said…is haggling really making a comeback? How far is it going to to? And how is this going to affect the lines at registers? I know I intentionally go grocery shopping late at night because there are few people there. I don’t like waiting in line to buy my groceries. If we have to wait for people to haggle on the price of everything in their basket….would we get home before the milk went bad?
I need to stop and buy some toothpaste on my way home. I wonder if I can get it for $2.50, instead of $3.14. I guess it’s worth a try…wonder how many people I will irritate in the process by trying to haggle with the cashier.
Happy shopping!

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One response

8 04 2008
Brand Ple

Brand Ple…

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