The price of almost everything you buy in Morocco is “up for negotiation”, and its common that you will have to barter for everyday services like taxi fares and services. Shopping in Morocco is like no other experience, there is nothing else like it. Unlike Western shopping where all prices are fixed and you purchase your chosen item and then leave, shopping in Morocco is never that simple. In Morocco you haggle and barter, you wrestle intellectually with the Moroccan seller in order to bring his price down, but there is an art to it, attempt to bring the price down to low and you lose the deal, too high and you may pay over the odds for your purchase.
Haggling is a fine art that everyday Moroccans have had years in which to practice. For you, the Westerner, unless you travel to Morocco on a regular basis, is a whole new experience.
Do not fear, there are government funded shops that you can visit on our tours where the prices are fixed, they may be more expensive than shopping in the souks, but they may give you a taste of shopping in Morocco without the haggling. It may also give you some idea of what to expect in terms of price when you do eventually go out and about into the souks. You should never pay more for an item in the souks than it’s listed price at the government run craft centres, unless there is a significant difference in quality.
Once you get into the souks, you will find they are awe-inspiring places in which to visit. The many labyrinthine archways, doorways adorned with items that are ornately designed and intricately designed carpets and rugs. Artworks, materials of every colour imaginable, and jewellery of all shapes and patterns you can think of. It would be easy to get carried away. Take a deep breath and think about what it is that’s caught your eye.
Once you have spotted something that you really do want to purchase, then you can approach the seller. Make sure you are certain, because otherwise you may either walk away empty handed, or risk offending the seller for offering too low a price.
Haggle for a third of what he is selling it for, and then half, try not to go too much lower as the seller may not be in a position to go much lower.
Remember that the seller has to make a living and you may be haggling for something that you’d be lucky to get at half the price back in Europe. Some advise tourists to walk away if they are not happy, and in certain circumstances this may be a good idea, essentially, however, if the seller does not attempt to stop you, it could mean you have offended him by going too low. But do remember that if you really can’t afford what he is offering and you cannot pay what he is asking, then be polite in your refusal before walking away.
While bargaining, please keep a sense of perspective. We often see people getting upset and not buying an item they really like because they won’t pay the last Dh10 on principal. If you really like something, we guarantee the extra 80 pence will seem like nothing when you are back in London paying £4 for a pint of lager!
Never barter just for the sake of it, bargaining is great fun but you will upset everybody if you barter hard, they accept your price, and then you reveal you never had any intention of buying it!
Leatherwork and metalwork, especially silver is especially cheap and you are bound to find a bargain. Spices are also extremely cheap in comparison to prices in Europe. They are sold loose, and if you search carefully you may find some saffron which is again sold relatively cheap in comparison to the UK. Browsing the spices is a particular treat as you take in the pyramids of bright colours and take in the pungent aromas.
There is so much to take in and so much choice, Moroccan sellers will attempt to lure you into their shops and offer you mint tea, but only go in if you are fairly certain you wish to purchase something. They are very welcoming and are both friendly and polite towards Western tourists, reciprocate and be polite in your refusals and your purchases. Most importantly, enjoy the unique experience of shopping in Morocco; it is something not to be missed.
To read our guide about Arts and Crafts in Morocco and what to buy, please click here
To return to our main Morocco Tours page, please click here