Answers from Our Experts (3)
Haggling is not common practice in London, or the UK at large, and trying to negotiate a discount at a fashion shop, restaurant, tourist attraction or taxi stand will usually result in a great deal of confusion and embarrassment.
However, the big exception to this rule is when we're talking about markets. While some stalls will have a strict fixed price policy, others will be open to bulk discounts when purchasing multiple items, with a few even willing to negotiate the listed price on individual items (particularly those of indeterminate value, such as antiques). If you are unsure of a vendor's stance on haggling, and don't want to ask outright, the best approach is to mutter a few understated lamentations to yourself along the lines of, “Oh dear, it's a little expensive” or “That's just above my budget.” You'll soon learn whether they are open to reduced offers.
But, if you are purchasing listed-price items from an independent retailer — such as a jeweler or an antiques dealer — you may secure a discount by offering to pay in cash.
Although many destinations around the world encourage haggling, in London this is not a practice that is very common. In fact, most British people will shy away entirely from discussions of price, preferring instead to simply pay up and move on.
That being said, there are bargains to be had in certain places if you are prepared to haggle. Markets are the number one hotspot for this, with most market traders willing to consider a small drop in price if you are buying more than one item. Or you could try asking for a little extra for free.
You may also be able to haggle with small companies offering tours - if you are in a big group you could try asking for one person to go free, for example. Don't be surprised though if people are not receptive to haggling in London, it is rarely seen and you should expect to pay the marked price in almost all instances.
Haggling isn’t something we really do in London. Even at markets, items tend to be priced at the level that stallholders feel is appropriate. That situation you experience in some places where you end up paying half the original price quoted just doesn’t happen here. (The only place where you'll find proper haggling is at car boot sales, but as a visitor to London you’re unlikely to find yourself at one of these flea market/yard sale affairs unless you go looking for them.)
Asking for a discount if you buy several items or pay in cash will sometimes yield savings. This is only likely to save you a small amount of money and is only ever worth trying in independent shops or at market stalls, but if you’re the type of person who gets a thrill from finding a deal, then by all means give it a go. Needless to say perhaps, but being charming and polite will increase your chances of success in almost all scenarios.