Saturday, November 1, 2008

Luxe For Less - The New Paradigm For A Perilous Period

We've just had a sub prime meltdown leading to a banking crisis and a market crash.

With the election coming next week we might be on the verge of a new period of market optimism and financial ferociousness.
Or not.

So I think now is a time to be reading the featured articles on Luxe For Less or How To Live Well In Lean Times.

One of the best articles by far is Jeanine Poggi's

Let's face it, retail stores are under pressure facing the dread 4th Quarter sales.
Was there ever a better time to bargain at retail...I don't think so.

"Especially in this gloomy economic climate where people are hesitant to shop, retailers are much more eager to move merchandise," says Deborah Kolb, professor of women leadership at the Simmons College School of Management and author of the book Everyday Negotiation: Navigating the Hidden Agendas of Bargaining. "The performance of store managers is often based on how well they sell merchandise. Sometimes their best alternative is to sell the item to you at a discounted rate rather than have it sitting there and eventually go on clearance."

So here's the scoop.

"While most retailers do not have formal policies regarding negotiating ticket prices, you would be shocked to know how many retailers want to negotiate," says Cohen. "Retail prices are an artificial, arbitrary number. Ticket prices are not ordained by some almighty being. They are created by humans. Anything that results from a negotiation is negotiable."

"Being a buyer gives you tremendous authority," he says. "Salespeople know that if you don't spend your money in their store, you will spend it somewhere else."

The best time to ask for a discount is at the end of the month or quarter, when managers are closing the books or trying to make room for new merchandise. Don't bombard a salesperson during a busy Saturday afternoon. Wait until the store is quiet and you have the salesperson's undivided attention.

And the money quote is this

"You need to be indifferent towards whether or not you succeed or fail," Kolb explains. "If you really want the item, it is less likely you will leave the store without it--even if it means paying full price. You need to be willing to walk away."

In a place far a time long ago...also know as B-School, I had a professor challenge our class to ask haggle for bargains in established retail stores. This went against everything that we were culturally programmed to believe. Asking for a discount at Neimans? Impossible.

Poggi's article goes on to address the fact that it's a cultural thing.

"While Americans are used to bargaining for car prices, in our culture we feel most ticket prices are set in stone," Kolb says. "But women in all other cultures are hagglers. No one believes the ticket price is the real price."

So...leave your cultural biases behind and go forth and haggle!

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