The science of a good deal
Posted on Friday 17 June 2011
in Shopping, Summer
The summer holidays are coming up, and if you have planned a trip to Europe over the next few months, you probably have shopping on the mind. The continent is known for its fantastic open-air markets and unique, exciting wares. What many may not know is that the age-old practice of haggling is still alive and well here. While talking down a designer purse at Harrod's may be frowned upon, it is perfectly acceptable and even expected in say, a Greek market square. Here is your bargaining handbook, everything you need to know to get a great shopping deal this summer.
The first thing that travelers need to know about the art of bargaining is when it is and isn't appropriate. In order to determine if the price of the item you are interested in is open to discussion, express interest in the object but state that you don't have enough money on you. This puts the ball into the seller's court. If he wishes to make an offer, this is when he will do it. Once the merchant moves his price, it is time to haggle.
If a seller indicates that he is willing to bargain with you, you should take this as a sign that the prices of his wares are simply suggestions. Some merchants will mark their goods up as much as 400 percent, in order to ensure that they will still make a considerable profit after the customer talks him down. As such, shoppers should ignore price tags and focus on the value of the items themselves. Decide if it is worth the hassle of dragging it back home and bargain accordingly.
The one thing that customers at these open-air markets do not want to do is show too much interest in a particular ware. Once the merchant sees that you really want something, you have lost any hope you may have had of getting the best deal. Most individuals would prefer to make a small profit than nothing at all, so showing that you are willing to walk away from the sale allows you to get the merchant down to his lowest price. You will know that you have gotten him to decrease the amount of money by as much as he is going to when he allows you to leave the store or stand without a fight.
Another tip that may help shoppers get the best prices on European goods this summer is to work with a spouse or travelmate. While one individual shows interest in bargaining and looking around, the other should act as a wet blanket, threatening to leave or shutdown the sale. This interaction will make the merchant nervous, and will result in him accepting a lower price faster. As previously mentioned, sellers want to move their goods. As such, they want to close a deal before it is closed for them.
One additional strategy is to hit the markets at the end of the day. In the evening, merchants are more willing to accept a low price, as they would prefer to sell all their goods than drag them back home.
Do not feel guilty if you end up deciding not to purchase an item that you have haggled for and don't feel upset if your offer is refused. Much of the allure of these open-air markets is the festive, fun atmosphere. Bargaining can and should be a fun thing to try while on vacation and with a little practice, you should have no problem decoding the science of a good deal.
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