15 January 2020
How to Shop Frugally in Marrakech By Haggling
The shops and souks of Marrakech offer an infinite selection of goods ranging from houseware to fashion accessories. A stroll through one of these bustling markets would fill the senses with brightly coloured fabrics, aromatic fragrances and much more.
However, travellers might end up overspending in the Red City if they’re not careful. That’s why it’s beneficial if visitors to Marrakech learn the art of haggling before they arrive. It can help them save plenty of cash that they might otherwise blow.
For the timid folk among us, haggling may seem like an act best reserved for extroverts and dominant individuals. The reality is anyone can learn to haggle with a little effort.
Haggling is a valuable skill to have when shopping in Marrakech. The city’s shopkeepers are famous for their sales techniques, and they can charm shoppers into buying things they didn’t intend to – this is just the nature of sales etiquette in the Marrakech souks.
It’s therefore advantageous to master a few haggling tricks.
Walk the Haggler’s Walk
When haggling in a Marrakech souk, the first step is to look at several shops to get a better sense of the prices for items a buyer wants to purchase. Once a buyer has a better sense of an item’s price, they can then go to a stallholder of interest.
The shopper can test that vendor’s specific price point. If the vendor opens with a high price, then they might be trying to sell the item for more than its actual worth. In such an instance, a shopper can respectfully (“respectfully” being the keyword) admit that they know the price and then walk away.
The next part is crucial – the shopper has to walk right away from the vendor’s shop as this will make them believe that their prospective customer is actually leaving. Also, the shopper should not look back at the vendor or shop. They don’t need to be aggressive or offensive, but walking away with a straight face will likely motivate the vendor to re-open negotiations.
If the vendor shows interest in re-negotiating, the shopper should go back in a calm and composed manner. The shopper can then resume haggling and ask what the vendor’s new price is. The vendor will then suggest a price. At this point, the shopper should think about the new price for a few seconds and then reply with an offer that is 25% less than the vendor’s new price.
The vendor may agree to the new price. If not, the shopper will have to ask for another offer. If the vendor still refuses the new offer, then it will be in the shopper’s best interest to browse elsewhere.
The idea of trying to “disarm” a vendor might strike fear in the heart of a naturally timid person. Keep in mind, though, that there are rules of etiquette with haggling. When shoppers follow these rules, they will avoid the very thing they’re afraid of – offending or irritating a shopkeeper.
- Keep your interactions friendly – Shoppers don’t need to carry a cheek-to-cheek smile when dealing with vendors, but they should also avoid dealing with them in a sullen or apathetic disposition. They should try to converse with them in a relaxed manner and remain as compliant as possible.
- Use some welcoming Arabic phrases – We recommend that travellers learn a few basic Arabic phrases or words. Locals (and vendors themselves) will appreciate the fact that a shopper has made the effort to communicate with them in their mother tongue. Naturally, the vendors will feel more relaxed and may respond better to a haggling attempt.
- Get comfortable with Moroccan humour – The stallholders in Marrakech souks are generally light-hearted and fun-loving. They will try to get visitors’ attention in a humorous fashion. A light-hearted response to such humour will make shopkeepers more comfortable with shoppers, making price negotiations much smoother.
- Refuse vendors politely – There will always be that one vendor who refuses to budge on price. This can be frustrating but shoppers should try to keep their emotions in check. If a vendor refuses to accept a price offer, it is wise to thank them politely for their time and then walk away.
- Know what to haggle for – Keep in mind that it’s inappropriate (and sometimes offensive) to haggle for certain items. Shoppers can haggle for the majority of items sold in a Marrakech souk, but it’s also not worth negotiate prices on everything (ie. food). It’s wise to know ahead of time what’s haggling versus what’s not. With that said, shoppers may consult a guide if they have any concerns about haggling etiquette.
Happy Frugal Shopping
A stroll through the Marrakech souks and markets will introduce shoppers to a world of exotic and precious goods that may at times be a bit pricey. However, when visitors absolutely can’t resist one of these precious items, haggling comes in handy.
Marrakech shopkeepers are usually willing to negotiate prices as long as shoppers approach them in a manner they are comfortable with. If the haggling is done right, a visitor might walk away with the item they desire for significantly less than the asking price.← Back to all posts