In this part of the Middle East it is common to haggle or barter over prices in the markets and souks, but most people don’t attempt it in the big stores and malls. Many people come from countries where negotiating prices is not the normal thing to do, so find it uncomfortable. Everyone likes to make a saving and it is possible to get discounts in many stores if you do it right.  If you don’t ask, you don’t get; so don’t be afraid to ask politely with a smile on your face. The worst that can happen is that they say no.

Here are some top tips:

Get them to give you something extra for free

Often shop assistants say they’re not allowed to give discounts. If you’re new to haggling, an easy starting point is to ask them to give you something extra for free. Whether it’s free cables with TVs, polish with shoes, or a bag for your camera, if you need an add-on; try not to pay extra for it.

Look for already discounted items

If the price is already reduced, in a sale, manager’s clearance or a special promotion, there can be more flexibility. The price as already been changed, so the psychological loss for the salesperson is reduced as they’ve already given up the idea of getting full price.

Towards the end of a sale is a golden haggling opportunity, as shops are keen to reclaim their display space for new stock. It can be worth pointing this out in a friendly way.

Buy in bulk

Discounts are often available for bulk-buying. This may mean stocking up for a year, buying combinations of products, or even going with a group of friends who want to buy something similar.

The advantage you have is you’re going to spend more money and you may secure a reduction because of it.

Pick the right person to talk to

If you’re haggling face-to-face, an assistant manager or supervisor is a good person to bargain with. They have more discretion than most of the shop staff, understand the retail game a bit better and are used to pleasing customers. The main manager of a big store is likely to be short of time and not bothered about one small sale.

Don’t fill the silence

As negotiations come to a close, a classic sales technique is to stay silent. They want you to accept the price just to fill the awkward silence. Say nothing and they may fill the silence with a cheaper offer.

Flaws mean discounts

If you’re shopping in person, look for the tiniest of dents or scratches in electrical appliances and marks on clothing. This makes them more difficult to sell. Clothing can be cleaned and your new fridge won’t be any less efficient with a scratch on the door.

It’s worth noting that even if you buy something knowing it has a superficial fault, you still retain your consumer rights if something else goes wrong.

Independent stores are great places to haggle

Negotiating in independent retailers, where you can speak directly to the owner, is often a better bet than a chain, as they have far more flexibility. The owner has complete discretion, so a smile and a hint that you’ll become a regular customer can work wonders.

Better still, become a regular. Somewhere you give your custom to frequently is far more likely to look after you. Put all your business through them, provided they’ll price-match the best deals you can get elsewhere.

Look for obsolete stock

Watch out for obsolete products, such as older TVs, cameras and phones, usurped by newer models. If it’s the last one left, offer to take it off their hands for a good price so they can restock!

Don’t try when stores are busy

Try not to haggle when a shop is crammed with other customers. The last thing salespeople are interested in is reducing their profits when they can see lots of people willing to buy. Go during quiet times of shopping, such as midweek mid-mornings.

Know your market

Before diving in, do some research, just as a professional negotiator would. Check out the prices offered by similar stores or online retailers and use them as a bargaining tool.

Don’t be afraid to walk away

If you’re nearly ready to buy, then start to use true sales negotiation language. Let them know the exact conditions they must meet in order to close the sale. But don’t be afraid to walk away if they won’t give you what you want. You can always try elsewhere.

Be friendly, but firm

You’re more likely to get a result if the staff member likes you.  If you’re polite, charming and treat the whole process with good humour and grace, you are far more likely to get the discounts you want.

Happy Haggling!

Keren Bobker is an Independent Financial Adviser at Holborn Assets and writes at