“Let’s Make a Deal” Retailing

Bargaining with sales associates is becoming increasingly popular in today’s economic slowdown…what’s the appropriate response by retailers? My thoughts on the subject, from a recent Retail Wire post:

No matter how much the customer asks, it’s tough for a big chain (say, JCP or Best Buy) to allow its sales associates to negotiate pricing. It opens a Pandora’s box of margin issues that a highly structured public company can’t afford. More importantly, it undermines the credibility of advertised sale  prices, even if the consumer is able to leverage credit coupons etc. on top of those prices.

None of this should prevent a small, independent retailer from being willing and able to strike a bargain with a customer who asks. For example, a local jewelry store might well make a sale (or not) by offering an additional 10% off of sale prices, but only as long as the store’s margin and expense structure can support it. Who among us has offered to pay list price — or even the posted sale price — for a car recently?

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