Consumer Comeback Blog

Frugal Friday: Would You Haggle to Save a Buck?

In some countries, haggling is the norm. In fact, many merchants are insulted if you don’t try to negotiate a price. But in the United States, the listed price is rarely up for discussion, but there may be more behind the scenes haggling than you would expect.

Contrary to popular belief, Americans are willing to haggle. Using coupons, asking for a discount due to damage, asking for competitors’ prices are examples of ways consumers discretely dispute prices. But many frugal Americans ditch the pretense all together and will barter for a better price. A new survey of 2,319 adults reports that 43% of Americans are somewhat willing to haggle with a merchant to save on holiday gifts, and 7% said they are likely to haggle.

Bargain hunters are willing to haggle year-round. The survey showed that 69% said they have haggled in the past, 26% haggle sometimes and 6% haggle frequently, but 31% said they never haggle.

“Sometimes shoppers have to get creative to come up with new and unique ways to save money,” said Jackie Warrick, President and Chief Savings Officer at “With the big holiday spending season imminent, now is a good time for consumers to plan their holiday shopping strategy and shop at a variety of different places to get the best overall deals.”

Warrick said haggling might not fly at national chains and big box stores, but you might have better chances at smaller independent businesses that are willing to negotiate in favor of acquiring a loyal customer base.

Still, about half of the survey respondents said they prefer to pay the listed price because:

  • 51% think the sales staff doesn’t have the power to change prices
  • 38% don’t think they would be successful driving down the price
  • 38% thin haggling is inappropriate
  • 31% think stores set prices for a reason
  • 23% would be too embarrassed
  • 10% don’t want to appear cheap

Survey participants who said they weren’t willing to haggle said they preferred to save money by shopping at:

  • Mass market discount stores (e.g., TJ Maxx, Marshall’s) – 63%
  • Dollar stores – 51%
  • Online auction sites (e.g., Ebay) – 35%
  • Charity shops (e.g., Goodwill, Salvation Army) – 27%
  • Consignment/resale shops (i.e., a shop where previously sold items are re-sold) – 26%
  • Garage sales – 25%
  • Pawn shops – 15%