Costa del sold: bashful Brits wait until holidays to unleash inner Del Boys

28 January 2016

  • Half of Brits would rather haggle on holiday rather than at home due to embarrassment
  • Car dealerships and markets top list of places to barter down prices in UK for 2016
  • London and South East are UK’s haggling hotspots

Britain is a nation of repressed wheeler dealers as new research reveals more than half of Brits claim they are much happier haggling abroad than at home.

Nationwide Simply Rewards has been refreshed to give debit and credit card customers up to 15 per cent cashback across many of the UK’s favourite retailers simply by logging into the website, reducing the embarrassment factor of sealing a deal.

The poll, commissioned by Nationwide Simply Rewards, shows that while around seven in ten people (69%) have attempted to barter with shop staff in the UK, this is mainly restricted to markets and car dealerships, where a respective 47 per cent and 41 per cent have haggled. By comparison, just seven per cent have ever attempted to reduce the cost of their shopping at the supermarket, while one in eight (15%) have done so in clothes stores. The research shows that around a third of people (31%) have never attempted to haggle.

The main reasons people gave for not challenging costs is the assumption they won’t get discounts (48%) or that they are too embarrassed to ask (43%). A fifth of people (21%) think it isn’t polite to haggle.

However, it appears we are far braver in trying to bag a bargain when on holiday, with more than half (55%) saying they prefer to haggle abroad than home. The main reason was that haggling is viewed as being part of the culture in some countries (81%). A fifth (20%) said it was because they were more relaxed on holiday.

UK haggling - regional variations:

The poll unveils some interesting regional differences regarding haggling. Londoners are most likely to try to beat down the cost of goods, with three quarters of people (75%) stating they actively haggle. The South East is closely behind, at 74 per cent, while Northern Ireland is third at 72 per cent.

Scots are least likely to haggle (58%), followed by those in Yorkshire and the Humber at 59% (see full breakdown in Notes to Editor).

Guy Simmonds, Nationwide’s Head of Current Account Customer Management, said: “Brits are renowned for being quite reserved as consumers, so it’s perhaps no surprise we’re often too embarrassed to ask for a discount. But it seems there are unwritten rules of engagement in some areas such as car dealerships, where debating the cost is almost part of the experience.

“Shoppers may be pleasantly surprised by the success they may have if they try to negotiate with retailers, particularly independent traders, as some will offer a discount or improve the deal in order to secure the sale.

“Nationwide’s Simply Rewards scheme helps shoppers save money by offering cashback on purchases made at a number of high street retailers. Those that are embarrassed to ask for a discount in store can shop knowing that they will still get money off, while those willing to haggle might benefit from a double-discount!”

Simply Rewards is a scheme that offers a range of cashback on items ranging from eating out and everyday essentials, through to travel and accommodation. Offers are refreshed on a regular basis to reflect customer shopping habits. Examples of merchants with offers available from launch include Argos, Emirates, Reebok, Adidas and Harvester.

If a customer successfully redeems a cashback offer, the money will be credited to their Nationwide current account or credit card within five days. Customers will then be able to see how much cumulative cashback they have earned by logging on to the Simply Rewards portal. In addition, each cashback transaction will show on their credit and debit card statements.

Nationwide Select Credit Card customers will earn additional cashback as the card offers 0.50% cashback on purchases in the UK. New Select Credit Card customers also receive £25 cashback if they spend or transfer a balance for £25 or more within the first 60 days of account opening.

Notes to Editors

Simply Rewards by Nationwide is managed and operated by Visa Europe

Customers can register or log in to view offers available from Simply Rewards

The Select Credit Card is available to main Nationwide current account customers. Full details on Nationwide’s Select Credit card

Regional breakdown of haggling in UK:

Region % who haggle
London 75%
South East 74%
Northern Ireland 72%
East Anglia 71%
North West 71%
South West 70%
North East 69%
Wales 66%
East Midlands 65%
West Midlands 62%
Yorkshire/ Humber 59%
Scotland 58%

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

Please note: If you are a customer looking for information on our products and services, please visit the main website.