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February 04, 2022

Has the recession made you a haggler?

Aside from skirting things like this, the best part about visiting the Caribbean is the chance to haggle.

Because, bartering is the traveller’s currency in many ways. We flock to negotiate prices in countries that rely on tourist dollars because, frankly, it’s the only time North American consumers have any real leverage.

Yet could a crippling recession change shopping traditions here at home? With retail tags all but set in stone, it’s not the custom to bargain in Canada … but, with a bum economy still looming, why shouldn’t it be?

Michael S. Rosenwald of the Washington Post  thinks so, at least, taking haggling to task in a recent feature for the newspaper.

Rosenwald challenges our society’s reluctance to barter, even going so far as to get Macy’s – as much of a we-don’t-need-to-budge-to-make-a-sale institution as there is – to knock 10 per cent off a pair of US$148 Cole Haan loafers.

Indeed, with revenue declining in nearly every form of consumerism, this may just be the time for retailers to be flexible with pricing where they may not have been before.

According to a recent Consumer Reports study, 66 per cent of U.S. shoppers have “haggled at least once” in the past six months, and an impressive 88 per cent of those bargain hunters successfully cashed in – deals that netted savings on a gamut of popular purchases: clothes, furniture, food, gadgets, shoes, etc.

“I’ve always wondered why more people don’t (barter),” a government economist source told the Post. “This is your money. It would be wasteful not to do this, right?”

Where Canadian haggling is concerned, it used to stand that fighting with Internet/TV/wireless providers like Rogers and Bell was our only method to bargain with leverage.

And while sometimes those companies budged, it didn’t exactly make Canucks feel they could go into dry cleaners or big box retailers and play hardball with their wallets. Reasoning with telecom giants appeared like an isolated opportunity.

Yet, the above question stands: could a recession – as deep and lasting as this one – press the RESET button on our shopping customs?

Have you started haggling for goods lately and, if so, has it worked?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...