How to Negotiate at Stores Around the World

Traveling has so many joys, new people, new sites, new foods … and of course, shopping. Obviously, if you walk into a Gap in Paris, the shopping experience isn’t going to be that much different than if you walk into a Gap in New York or Montreal. But, the difference between a shuk in Israel and a farmer’s market in Provence … that’s huge. Shopping around the world can be as much of an eye opening experience as eating around the world.

One of the main worries a lot of travelers have about shopping around the world is haggling or bargaining. Although you might not haggle or bargain for clothes in your day to day life, you probably do engage in negotiations on a regular basis. You negotiate for things with your family, your boss, your coworkers, just about everyone. Honing and improving your everyday negotiating skills can help you when you’re shopping abroad, or living your life at home.

These 3 tips will help you negotiate at home or abroad.

  1. Do your research – Before you attempt to bargain with a local, or bargain with your boss for a raise, make sure you know what you’re talking about. Is bargaining part of the culture of that market? Is what you’re asking for reasonable? Is there a specific style of negotiation that is seen as “correct” in that culture? Publishers such as Lonely Planet, specialize in making local culture accessible to tourists and can be great resources for your research. You should also research the specific products that you’re interested in. You don’t want to invest too much time in bargaining for a rug, only to discover one exactly like it at every other market in town. Pay attention to opening and closing times of the market as well. Vendors are much more likely to make a deal at the end of the day.
  2. Don’t pretend – Shoppers often try and pretend to know more than they do about a product or a place in order to get a better deal. The truth is that even if you speak the local language, the vendor probably knows you’re a tourist. Trying to pretend to be local, or know a lot about how the merchandise is made, won’t work and will start the negotiation off in a bad place. Think about it, how would you feel if someone approached you at your work with a lie, and then asked you for a discount? 
  3. Don’t be afraid to walk away – It would be rude to negotiate a job offer if you had no plans to take the job. Likewise, it’s rude to haggle over a hat that you hate. But, it is ok to engage in even a lengthy negotiation and still not buy the product (or take the job). Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you start talking about it. Vendors are great at making you feel guilty for not buying, but just remember, that’s part of their job. 

Certain professions like Car sales people, lawyers, or collection agents are experts at negotiations. If you’re interested in negotiating in your regular life, some quick online searches can help you find articles about negotiation that will help you improve your skills.