Shopping Strategies

How to Get the Best Deal at a Furniture Store Guaranteed

Is it possible to get a better deal on a sofa than what's marked on the price tag? Learn some great negotiating tips to help you score a great deal.

Can you negotiate couch price?

Haggling was once a common part of the everyday shopping experience (ask your grandpa if you don't believe us). But is it still possible to negotiate prices, especially for something big like entire sectional living room sets?

  • Yes! Generally...: Furniture is one of the few remaining retail markets that still bakes haggling into the cost of doing business. Sofas and sectionals take up a lot of space, and retailers like to keep inventory moving. This opens up a golden opportunity for negotiation. If you're in the mood to haggle, oldschool retailers and mom and pop shops are a better bet than your modern, corporate style retailers.
  • If in doubt, just ask!: Hoping for a deep discount on that deep oversized sectional couch? Then you can't go wrong by simply asking a salesperson or online rep if negotiation is possible. You'll likely have better luck at a brick and mortar store, but don't count out online negotiating. It can't hurt to ask and we've seen it work before countless times... especially when it comes to clearance merchandise that a retailer wants to move and for which the perceived value is a bit foggy.

Feeling like you're ready to take a big swing and negotiate for that Big Lots sectional couch you've been eyeing? Give it a shot! Worst case scenario they say "nah." Nah harm, nah foul.

What is the markup on a couch?

Alright, let's get into the nitty-gritty of couch pricing and markups. It feels like affordable furniture no longer exists. But is that because retailers are marking their prices way up? Or are they barely breaking even? Let's take a deep dive on the math.

  • Retail math: On average, furniture retailers mark up their products by around 100% to 200%. That means if a couch costs them $500 to make, they might sell it for $1000 to $1500.
  • Operating costs: Keep in mind that furniture stores have expenses like rent, staff salaries, utilities, advertising and more. These costs are factored into the markup.
  • Online shipping: When shopping online, you might swoon when you see "free shipping." But this generally means that the cost of shipping is baked into the price of the furniture. And shipping a big sectional sofa isn't cheap. You might learn that the hard way if you need to return it and they don't cover the cost of return shipping. It can be anywhere from $150-500 on average depending on the pieces you've ordered.
  • Quality matters: Higher-end sofas often have higher markups, but they might also come with better craftsmanship, materials, and durability.
  • Brand prestige: Recognizable brands might carry a higher markup due to their reputation. You're paying not just for the product but for the brand name.

So, when you're shopping for a couch, remember that the price you see isn't just about the materials and labor. It's also a reflection of the store's overhead and the perceived value of the piece.

Are couch prices negotiable?

Don't have time to wait for Presidents Day furniture sales or Memorial Day furniture sales? We feel your pain. So can you find any deals at any other time of year by haggling?

  • Brick and mortar boss: In person shopping is a great way to score a potential negotiating win. Walking into a physical store gives you a golden opportunity to charm the salesperson and flex your negotiation muscles. And since the stock is physically taking up space in a store, they might be more willing to get it out the door.
  • Virtual haggling: Many online stores offer live chat support. Engage in a friendly conversation with a representative and subtly drop hints about your budget. You might just get a discount code! Introverts: we're looking right at you (but a little to the left so we don't make you feel too uncomfortable).
  • Sign up and save: Signing up in-store for newsletters or creating an online account can sometimes grant you exclusive access to discounts or early bird sales.

Negotiating in person can be intimidating if you're not used to it. But an anonymous online chat has zero risk! So snap those fingers and try your luck with virtual haggling.

How do I get the best deal at a furniture store?

OK, you're really going to do this. You're going to get in the car, buckle up, drive down to the store, and get right down to negotiations. There's no stopping you. But what should you actually do once you're in there? Here's all the steps you need for nailing your negotiation.

  • Chat up the sales rep: Engage in friendly banter with the salesperson. Express your interest and ask if there's any room for negotiation. They won't say no if the answer is yes. If they say "not really" that's a yes. If they hesitate for a second that's a yes. You get the idea. Just look for the signs! Pro Tip: Negotiation is uncomfortable for most people so set a target number and picture something tangible that you can buy for yourself with the money you'd like to save. Whether that's a margarita, an Xbox or your car payment, there's a lot of money being exchanged here so it's really worth trying if you can muster up the courage!
  • Timing is key: Hit the store during off-peak times, like weekdays or slower sales seasons. They might be more willing to cut you a deal.
  • Know Your Worth: Research similar couches and their prices. Armed with knowledge, you'll know when the price is fair or when it's time to play hardball.
  • Bundle up: Planning to buy multiple items? Ask if they can sweeten the deal with a discount for buying a package.
  • Point out imperfections: If you spot minor flaws, like a small scratch, you can sometimes use that as leverage to negotiate a lower price.
  • Play the waiting game: If you're willing to be patient, mention that you're considering other options. They might offer a better deal to secure the sale. See "The Walk-Away Tactic" below...
  • Be polite, but firm: Negotiate with respect and politeness. A friendly demeanor can go a long way in convincing them to lower the price. At the end of the day, the salespeople likely have to gain some sort of approval to give you what you want which is, in turn, uncomfortable for THEM. So don't give them a reason to succumb to the pressure of facing their boss for the big ask.
  • The walk-away tactic: If they're not budging, be prepared to walk away. Sometimes, this spurs them to reconsider and offer you a better deal.

Now that you've negotiated successfully you can finally admit that it was actually pretty dang fun. So what else can you haggle for? Didn't you say you needed a new car recently? Game time.

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Alex Back is the founder and CEO of Previously, he was the co-founder and COO of the popular furniture brand, Apt2B, which was acquired by a large US retail furniture chain in 2018. He worked to integrate Apt2B, one of the very first online furniture retailers on the Shopify platform, into the operations of the 100 year old larger business entity and was deeply immersed in the business operations of both online and brick and mortar retail for 4 years before leaving in 2023 to start Working in various parts of the furniture industry since 2004, he has 20 years experience in retail sales, e-commerce, marketing, operations, logistics and wholesale manufacturing and distribution. He has worked extensively with partners such as Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon and his work has been highlighted in many publications such as Forbes, CNN and HGTV, among others. Alex is delighted to bring his experience and authority on couches and the furniture industry to this platform, along with many of his industry colleagues who are helping him keep the audience informed and engaged on a daily basis.
Alex Back CEO & Founder