Test bargaining skills while holiday shopping

GLENDALE, Calif. With the holiday shopping season well under way, personal finance experts are unveiling one of the best kept secrets in the world of retail. You can bargain for a better price, sometimes even at major department stores.

Shopper Courtney Sulzberger said she's never tried to bargain at the mall.

"Most of these places are brand name stuff, so you can't really bargain with them," she said.

"The bigger stores, I figure, they just have the power, so I've never thought to try to haggle with them," said shopper Jason Greene.

Personal finance columnist Liz Pulliam-Weston says most people don't even try to bargain at malls but they should, and it's easy to do.

"The first thing is, be prepared. Do your research on the Internet, particularly if you have something specific that you want to buy," she said. "Know what the prices are, print that information out so you can take it with you, and see if people will match it."

Pulliam-Weston said shoppers shouldn't assume the answer will be no, and advises asking if there are coupons available at the register.

"Another tip is be nice. You won't get anywhere being pushy, being nasty, if you take a minute to say hi, to be nice, make a little conversation, you'll make a friend on the other side of that counter, and she could be willing to help you," Pulliam-Weston said.

If an item you want is damaged, don't hesitate to ask for a discount. Clerks are eager to make a deal, especially in this economy.

Sulzberger said she wanted to purchase a $25 dress, but it had a little rip in it. She was able to get the dress for $10.

Pulliam-Weston also says that some major department stores will honor coupons from competitors, and they will even match the price of an item if it's being sold less elsewhere.

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