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Is Breaking Up Easier Than Bargain Hunting?

  • Written by  Leslie McNamara, Citi Retail Services

0aaaLeslie McNamara CitiRetailServicesOccasionally, we do a piece of customer research that hits home in a really personal way.  As someone who grew up frequenting flea markets with an extended family of bargainers and sharp-eyed deal seekers, the findings from Citi Retail Services’ annual Savvy Shopper Study really resonated with me — and underscored how in a digital world, bargaining has become less personal, more attainable and more relevant than ever before.

Not surprisingly, 82% of consumers compare or track prices when shopping.  But an equal number now leverage search engines such as Google Shopping as do window shopping or shop in stores.  And more believe that they get better deals when doing so — 36% compared to 28% who physically visit stores.  Consumers are largely impulsive when they do track prices — almost half will make their purchase decision within a week, while the remainder wait on average about three weeks to make a decision.

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One result I found surprising is that consumers still aren’t at high adoption rates for web sites touting inside tracks to deals or coupons (only 14%), mobile apps such as ShopSavvy (14%) or browser apps such as Honey (10%).  I have to admit, I’m a major supporter of these offerings.  It’s rare that I don’t seek out coupons and deals online to confirm I’ve gotten a rock bottom price before making a purchase. 

Even more enticing?  The growing number of chat buttons that allow me to “push the envelope” with 1-to-1 haggling online — the ease of simply asking “is this your best price?” or referencing their “110% price match guarantee” in a faceless environment (sans sweaty palms or face-to-face arguments on price-to-value) is almost too easy.  44% of consumers listed price match as their go-to strategy for discounting — as chat becomes a growing retail feature, I wonder if we will see this percentage climb.

As always, though, physical stores offer savvy shoppers unique advantages, including the option to search for clearance items (60%) and avoid shipping costs (58%) or avoid shipping delays (39%). 

While consumers continue to put in extra effort to find deals — 40% will subscribe to a store email list, 34% will apply for a store credit card, 31% will ask for an adjustment if something goes on sale after purchasing it, and 24% will find a way to leverage their own or a friend’s employee discount — our findings showcase that the thrill of the hunt is hard to let go. In fact, almost 30% of consumers said it would be harder to decide when to buy the item they were tracking than it would be to call it quits in a relationship.  Now that’s a bargain hunter after my own heart!


Leslie McNamara is Managing Director, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Workforce Development for Citi Retail Services. Named to this role in August 2018, McNamara’s role focuses on organically growing the business through Partner, Cobrand and Digital Marketing. Supporting these key growth areas and also reporting to her are Research and Insights, Strategic Communications and Workforce Development. Prior to this, she served as Head of Business and Market Development for Citi Retail Services since April 2016. In this role, she was chartered with market-facing activities for Citi Retail Services including Business Development, Research and Insights, Strategic Communications and Workforce Development.

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