Haggling in Morocco is a right of passage into travel adulthood. The country’s economy was built on a long history of merchants and traders haggling their way across the centuries, making a good ol’ session of exciting price negotiations an integral part of the Moroccan experience.
Take a moment to absorb the atmosphere and then seize the opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone. Like a perfectly choreographed ballet, haggling is a back-and-forth art that can leave both parties feeling like winners.
Here are some tips to help you navigate a truly Moroccan pastime. Dive in and have some fun!
1. Everything is negotiable
Your snack: negotiable. That expensive rug: negotiable. Those cheap refrigerator magnets: negotiable. Taxis: absolutely, definitely, very negotiable. You get the point, never pay the asking price!
2. Start low
In tourist spots, it’s common for merchants to charge even ten times the usual local price. Some visitors might find it rude to ask for such steep discounts, but after a transaction or two you’ll realize that it’s all part of the game. Many stalls will sell similar items, so walk around and get a feel for prices.
3. Take your time
Haggling is an experience. It can take a while to settle on a price for an expensive rug, and often the merchant will ask you to sit, chat and offer you some mint tea. They are salespeople who enjoy what they do and want to show hospitality. If you have time, indulge yourself and enjoy.
4. Information is power
Never mention that it is your 1st time in Morocco or that you just arrived. They may perceive you as an easy customer. Learn a few simple words in Arabic (such as Hello: As-salam alaykom, Please: Min Fadlik, and Thank you: Shukran), these common courtesies can help sway your seller.
5. Bundle items for a group rate
A single, eye-catching item may attract you to a shop, but as you wrestle down the price, silently scan the shop for other items you may like. Buying in bulk will help get the price down.
6. Don’t feel obligated to buy
The mint tea, friendliness and extreme hospitality does wonders to your emotions, so offer to pay for the tea if required. But it’s okay to say no thank you.
7. Don’t be dissuaded by shows of emotion
Remember that souks merchants are hardened salespeople. You’re not going to really hurt anyone’s feelings by sticking to a low price or walking away. If anything, you’ll gain their respect.
8. Always be willing to walk away
When the seller just won’t budge, summon the strength to walk away. It will give you the chance to look elsewhere (there’s no shortage of options in Morocco!).
9. Be nice and have fun
Be firm but friendly. Your commercial counterpart is an experienced negotiator who lives for the thrill of the win. Show them that you’re not a pushover, but do it with some friendly pizazz. Smiles go a long way. It will help you get the complete haggling experience.
10. Don’t disclose your final price to others
Everyone wants to feel good about their purchase, so don’t burst someone else’s bubble if you’ve secured a better price for a similar object. Everyone’s a winner in a Moroccan market!