Bargain Hunting? Is It Right or Wrong?

Well, it’s official – we’re a nation of bargain hunters. A new survey out suggests that nearly three quarters of shoppers expect to pay a discounted rate for purchases. A new research study found that 74% of consumers believed they were entitled to a discount when buying consumer items, regardless of price. Yup, that means not just on the big ticket purchases like sofas, but on the small stuff too (would you ask for a discount when buying cheese?)

saving money online

Of those polled nearly one in five (19%) said they refused to pay full price for anything, choosing instead to scour the internet for discount offers. Food, clothing, travel and experience days were the most common items which consumers expected to make savings on – with many using discount sites and loyalty schemes to do so.

Interestingly those polled stated that they expected larger discounts online than shopping in store, as they were aware that selling via the internet was cheaper for retailers. But more and more we’re asking for – and getting – discounts in shops too.

I remember the day I learned that you could haggle on new furniture. I had just sold my first flat and the buyer came round, before she’d moved in, to measure up for curtains. She mentioned that she’d bought a suite of bedroom furniture from John Lewis. ‘Wasn’t that expensive?’ I couldn’t help asking. (My bedroom was furnished from charity shop finds). ‘Well,’ she smiled, ‘I was buying a few things so they gave me a great discount.’ When pressed further she revealed that she’d managed to get thirty percent off the ticket price. It was a revelation to me, but one that I immediately squirreled away for the future and since then, any time I’ve bought a large item I’ve always asked if they could better the ticket price. They almost always do, usually by 10%. At the very least they waive the delivery charge.

The survey revealed women to be more discount savvy than men, with 65% admitting to searching for a discount offer before making a purchase, compared to just 41% of men. I’m kinda surprised that both figures aren’t higher – I google for discount shopping codes as a matter of routine now if I know I’m going to make a purchase and it’s amazing how often I find them.

With the UK officially back in recession the discounts are likely to keep coming – and nearly everyone will take advantage. So, are we consumers right to feel unwilling to pay full price – or are we making the economy worse with our penny pinching ways? I read with interest this week about Cash Mobs, basically a group of consumers who come together to bring shoppers into small businesses in their communities. Organized via social media, Cash Mobs target bookstores, coffee bars, gift boutiques and other local, independent shops. Everyone agrees to spend a minimum amount – usually about £15 – in the store, simply to help it stay afloat. It’s as far from haggling for a discount as you can get. Have these kind-hearted folks got the right idea? Or are they missing a trick on the bargain-grabbing front? Should they be marching into stores that are down on their luck and demanding discounts instead?

cash mobs LA

Cash Mobs do their buying-thing at an independent organic foodstore. No haggling for discounts allowed.

Should we all stop haggling and start paying what we can to help the nation out of recession? Or will discount culture continue to grow as our finances get more and more squeezed? What do you think? I’d love to know.

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4 thoughts on “Bargain Hunting? Is It Right or Wrong?

  1. Unlikely to get a “Cash Mob” up here – rural town and all but it is an interesting idea.

    I haggle for everything – with a great big smile on my face – and usually we come to a deal. Its either a discount or free delivery – but I always tell my friends and spread a little good networking around.

    • admin

      I’m a haggler too Elaine! Just got £20 off a chest of drawers yesterday and am unlikely to buy anything at full price without trying for a little discount! The thing is, people nearly always say yes – it makes me regret those years when I never even bothered to ask! As a haggler at heart I struggle a little with the Cash Mobs concept too. Very unselfish and laudable but it’s quite an ask of people in these tough times.

  2. Being part of the Cash Mob is alright if you can afford it, but I’m still a stingy discount eater and always will be!

    • admin

      Ha ha, I struggle a bit with the Cash Mob concept too, Catherine! Think it’s the spending minimum that gets me – happy to go in and support a local store with a couple of pounds but committing 15 is something else!

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