‘Customers are up-to-date with products, price range’
HYDERABAD: Mall after mall, store after store, Hyderabad’s shopping culture is expanding rapidly. The neo-shoppers head straight to malls offering ‘bargains’ and ‘discounts’ to get the latest fashion. But in the ‘gullies’ of local markets like General Bazaar, Koti, Ameerpet and Charminar, a silent war is being waged for the best bargains where haggling is the norm.
“It’s often middle class women or housewives who bargain the most,” says Govind Jain, a clothes shop owner in Koti. “This can’t be Rs.250, I am your regular customer, give it for Rs.80,” says R. Lalitha, a housewife as she negotiates the price of a pair of Kolhapuri sandals in the streets of General Bazar. The tirade continues and both customer and shopkeeper settle for a final price of Rs.100.
Not all are expert bargainers. Often customers check out the same dress or pair of footwear in at least two to three shops and compare the prices before they start bargaining, says Mr. Jain. “Most of our customers are up to date with the latest entrants in the market and the price range, so we try to match their prices with ours,” says Sandeep, another shopkeeper. “They (shopkeepers) are well-aware that customers would bargain, so they inflate their prices; in spite of haggling they still make a profit of Rs.5- Rs.10,”says M. Prasanna, a student. Mr. Jain agrees to this and says shopkeepers are always on the lookout for that one or two customers who don’t bargain.
Razaq Ahmed, a shopkeeper in Koti says that the next generation shoppers are not much of bargainers. “If girls are not accompanied by their mothers or aunts, then we are very sure they would not bargain,” he says. K. Soumya, an engineering student agrees. “When my mother is negotiating with the shopkeeper, sometimes decreasing the original price by three-fourths, I want to run away from there,” she says sheepishly. Men too are not too far behind in bargaining. “Quite a few men come with their families to bargain and often they come closer to the actual price than women,” says Sandeep. Shopkeepers say women are aggressive bargainers while men are much polite. “Men walk in, check out all the clothes and their prices, comment on the shop, start a conversation and then bargain unlike women who jump straight into negotiations,” says P.Vijay, a shopkeeper in General Bazaar. “We want to sell our wares and the customer wants a bargain, so it’s a win-win situation for both of us in the end,” adds Vijay.