Life is a Catwalk: Will you barter for a bargain?

Illustration by Lizzie Bailes visit for more info.
Illustration by Lizzie Bailes visit for more info.

IT is quite a British thing to not barter for a bargain, but having a little bit of cheek can sometimes be of massive benefit, so why are we scared to ask for a discount?

Maybe we don’t like to offend by asking for money off. Perhaps it is just too embarrassing if they say no.

In certain cultures bartering is expected, and even other Europeans look on it less judgementally than the British, but you’d be surprised what deals you can get if you just try.

The easiest things to negotiate on are the more expensive things, like cars, computers and other high-price items. A higher price tag often means more leeway.

But what about fashion items? It is much harder trying to haggle on full price merchandise in high street fashion shops. If you don’t buy it, chances are, someone else will.

To truly work your negotiating powers head to the sales – because staff already know they won’t get full price for an item, so offer to take it off their hands for cheaper. The very end of sales is also a perfect time to test your bartering skills as staff will need to clear remaining sale stock .

Whether in the sale, or at full price, check for garment faults – broken zips, missing buttons, dirty marks or loose threads – most shops will discount by 10 per cent if you ask nicely. Just beware if a damaged item is discounted at the till, many stores will deem it non-refundable.

I once bought a dress in one very fashionable high street store that had been reduced from £40 to £20 in the sale, but had a bust zip. A friendly word with a manager and I walked way with a gorgeous frock (with a very fixable zip) for just £12.

Independent stores often have more flexibility as they don’t have to stick to company policies, and in many cases you’ll be dealing with the shop owner.

Most importantly, if you go into a shop and are rude or demanding about getting a lower price you’ll upset staff and they won’t feel inclined to help you. So be friendly, polite, and a little bit cheeky. When it comes to haggling, a little charm goes a long way.