Every Sunday morning, we bustle into the car, kids freshly washed and dressed. We come together to congregate in massive structures, with elevated roofs and wide aisles, seeking comfort and release.

2013 shoppers will be 10x blurrier than 2012 shoppers

I’m talking, of course, about Bunnings. Or Costco, or Direct Factory Outlet, or any number of the new “big box” warehouse-style retail outlets that have sprung up in our suburbs. Australians love to shop.

There has been much talk lately of the death of the Aussie consumer. The global financial crisis has battered spirits, but the Aussie shopper will not be beaten. Provided he or she can keep her job, that is. It is true households are saving more and opting to paying down their mortgages. The household savings rate is up. We are, on average, saving an about 10 per cent of everything we earn. Before the GFC, we spent every dollar, and then some.

But the savings rate has recently stopped rising. As long as incomes keep growing, this means consumers should have a little extra money to spare. And with the Reserve Bank having slashed interest rates to historic lows, 2013 looks set to mark the return of the Aussie shopper. Indeed, we may already be there.

Retail sales figures show turnover at traditional retail stores grew only about 3 per cent last year. But this only accounts for about 30 per cent of the total spending we do. It ignores, for instance, car sales and purchases of services like hairdressing.

According to Commonwealth Bank economist, Michael Workman, if you look at wider measures, consumers are well and truly spending again.

“The shocking reality is that overall consumer spending is growing at 6 per cent per annum, right in line with its 10-year average.”

So, we still love to shop. But our shopping habits have changed dramatically. We don’t love the same stores we used to. And we don’t shop in the same way.

As a consequence, despite growing spending, 2013 is shaping up as another year of massive upheaval in the Australian retail industry. Last year saw Darrell Lea and Payless Shoes went into administration.

The year before saw the demise of Colorado Group, Angus and Robertson, Borders, Sleep City and Ed Hardy.

Quentin Olde is a partner at insolvency firm Taylor Woodings. He’s a corporate undertaker, of sorts.

Olde predicts many other iconic Australian retail brands won’t survive the year.

“There will be a number of household brands that will disappear,” he said during an economic briefing last week. “Retailers are struggling. They will have to change their models.”

Increasing competition from foreign retail brands like Zara and Costco have fundamentally reshaped the retail landscape, says Olde.

Despite weak consumer confidence in recent years, Australians remain a relatively wealthy nation in a world where high joblessness in Europe and America means those consumers are keeping an iron like grip on the purse strings.

This invasion of foreign retailers offers Australian shoppers more choices while creating new jobs. But it is also putting pressure on struggling domestic retailers.

“During a time of low confidence, competition has increased,” explains Olde.

Retailers with high-cost retail foot prints are looking to restructure their businesses. Olde predicts there will be a polarisation of the retail space.

First, retailers will continue to embrace the Walmart or ‘big box’ warehouse style shopping experience.

“That’s about lowering your retail property foot print,” says Olde. “You take yourself out of the high street and put yourself into a low cost retail space.” The focus is on price, not customer service. “You don’t expect attention from a staff member when you enter the door. Consumers understand that model.”

At the other end of the market, there will be smaller, high street stores focused on offering quality products and the shopping “experience’’ to help part consumers with their money. “People who walk into a Louis Vuitton store aren’t going to worry about how much they’re going to spend on a handbag because otherwise they wouldn’t be there.”

Existing retailers are also adapting to the shift to online sales. JB HiFi, for example, has begun selling white goods, in addition to its traditional audio and visual products which people increasingly purchase on line. “People don’t buy a fridge on line,” explains Olde. “When people buy a fridge, they want to listen to how the door closes and see how the ice machine works.”

Other retailers, like Dan Murphy, have started offering “click and collect” services, allowing shoppers to purchase online and have their order ready to be picked up.

Olde also predicts shopping will increasingly focus on “the wellness concept” as shoppers seek goods and services that boost their family’s health and happiness, like sporting equipment, gyms, massages and pampering. Consumers will also increasingly spend more on experiences, like holidays, rather than things.

For all the gloom, the Aussie shopper is not dead, just sleeping. Given the retail industry remains the biggest employer of Australians, the return of the Aussie shopper would be very good news for jobs and growth. It is Aussie shoppers, not big miners, who must drive the economic recovery in 2013.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEDT.

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    • Mahhrat says:

      06:47am | 04/02/13

      Good article.

      Australian retail forgot something for about a generation: there is exactly one sovereign power that they just can’t get at - the decision to open our wallets.

      I hope they suffer until they change.  Shit, look at Coles.  Even in little ol’ Hobart, we can get our groceries delivered.  It’s SO GOOD.  I don’t have to go out that evening, I spend it with my family.  A really nice bloke rocks up and brings me my groceries, we have a short chat and then chuck stuff in the freezer.

      Yay!  Convenience!

    • patsy says:

      10:03am | 04/02/13

      @Mahhrat-Yes Coles Online is convenient. I used them when I had a broken leg. BUT as we drove through Shoalhaven Heads the other day there was a big sign “COLES DOWN. FARMERS ARE DOWN.”  So I would never buy Coles milk.

    • ramases says:

      06:56am | 04/02/13

      Yes, shopping has changed. people now realise that if they want true value for money then shopping online is the way to go. For too long the big retailers have had the edge but with the advent of online shopping and the increased savings to be had there people are moving away from bricks and mortar and into cyber space to spend their money.
        As for the shopping experience, its overrated and although we sometimes treat ourselves to a couple of hours window shopping it still doesnt entice us to buy. Crowds, rude or uninterested or absent salespersons, musac that drives one mad as every shop has a different song all competing against each other for attention. If we happen to see an item that peaks our interest, we check it out, try the various bits and pieces and then its off back home and onto the net to find it cheaper and buy it there.
        The so called sales are a dead giveaway as they show that stores can survive quite well even when cutting the cost of their items by up to 50% but would rather sell them to you at inflated prices most of the time.
        Sure most grocery shopping is still done at the two major companies but that too is changing with the advent of Aldi and now Costco. What we are seeing now is the two majors cutting prices down to lure the customer back but it makes one wonder that if they can cut the costs so dramatically now how much have they been ripping the public off before hand and still give the discount on petrol that they do!
      I know that I go online for most consumables and only occasionally do I go and buy locally and then only when armed with prices from online as a guide. if the bricks and mortar cant match or better the price then its back online to buy.
        Case in point, I wanted a specific TV and found the price online that I could get it and then went to a major retailer and inquired about the price. I was given a price that was $500 over the online price. After telling the salesperson the price I was willing to pay I got the item at that price, saving the $500 plus I got an extra 12 months warranty thrown in.
        Of course there will always be a place for those up market stores that prey on those who must have the latest and greatest and who will pay for the priveledge of being ripped off but the average punter now wants value for money and if that means going on line more often then so be it.

    • Jay2 says:

      08:57am | 04/02/13

      ramases, What’s going on, two days running and two posts that nail it! You’re on fire grin

      That’s EXACTLY how I feel about shopping.  The only shopping I enjoy are the GENUINE markets where you get local crafts and produce etc, some of those are excellent.

      Recently we replaced our laptop, so I found a make that I like, weighed up our needs, decided a reputable model with min i7, windows 8, antivirus etc etc. Of course, the tricky part is knowing that the bigger companies will have their own branded model, so when they write down the details for price comparison you are never going to find the identical one.
      Cut a long story short, did the internet price checking, went back to the shop with a printed out cost and they ended up taking nearly a hundred dollars off .  This despite when I first asked for the best deal for cash, they told me they had NO room to move on this item whatsoever.
      So yep, ramases, makes me wonder how much the Aussie consumer does get ripped off.
      Another example, wanted a particular brand of cosmetics, found it overseas for $25 plus free shipping to Australia. Found exact same item in large department store, it was $53.00!!  Here I was thinking if it was $30 or even $35 I would just by it locally, but over 100% mark up!!
      No wonder they’re struggling!!

      The internet has really been a wake up call for me, to how much I was been slugged by over the top prices and now those same companies are crying foul over the gst free under a thousand bucks imports!! Bit rich those same people are multi millionaires based on years of sticking it to the consumers.  I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra to support local retail, but that loyalty has to cut both ways!

    • ramases says:

      01:15pm | 04/02/13

      Thanks Jay2, I have a tendency to see things in black and white, shades of grey just confuse the issues. What really get me is how we are being urged to buy from our retailers but there is no incentive to buy at there at their inflated prices. Some have now opened on-line shopping but still the prices are up there and not that much cheaper.
      Never know, one day The Punch might ask me to write an article,lol.

    • NESLIHAN KUROSAWA says:

      07:08am | 04/02/13

      Hi Jessica,

      Well then it is all good news all around.  I just wanted to know if we are actually spending the money we have right now in our pockets or is it all thanks to the credit cards with easy money?  Of course the consumer spending and confidence can make all the difference to our economy.  Just like you suggested most Europeans and Americans have learnt from the mistakes of the past and are pretty careful when it comes to their spending habits.

      Most certainly Australia is a very young nation with its relatively low population.  Therefore we may have a bit of difficulty at meeting the requirements of “demand and supply” ratio.  Could we really compare the Australian economy to Germany,  France, Italy and the UK?  Lets also not forget that small retailers are also the backbone of a society creating jobs and supporting the Australian economy in a special way.

      I am really impressed with your article and research, especially all those brand names. However I am still wondering if shopping like there is no tomorrow, is the real answer to our problems in the long term?  Kind regards.

    • acotrel says:

      07:41am | 04/02/13

      So we can forget about getting our own manufacturers to move up market and produce superior goods to justify the high wages of Australian workers ? If our industry is to be all retail, tourism and education, the future doesn’t look too bright .  Where do the dollars come from to buy things ?

    • Tubesteak says:

      10:58am | 04/02/13

      No one will ever convince me that a Falcodore is anywhere near what the Germans and Japanese are doing

      Economies built on selling services both domestically and internationally is the future for first world countries. If you want make things then move to a developing country where labour is cheap and work there

    • Esteban says:

      01:00pm | 04/02/13

      acotrel. There are lots of Australian manafactures who are producing superior goods. many ofthem come “home” for their annual holidays and send their kids to Australian bording schools.

      Manafacturing as a percentage of the workforce has been in a slow decline since the 70’s. Australia is a high cost country and getting higher and harder to manfacture in.

      Existing manafacturers hang on and tinker with their business models and some get some Govt handouts but for those looking to set up a new manfacturing business I am afraid that all too often the long term prospects look better overseas.

      The replacement rate of new manafacturers is not keeping up with closure of existing manafacturers.

      Acotrel I think you would benefit if you looked at things from the perspecive of business owners rather than workers. Not publicly owned businesses but those family owned businesses where the owner has their entire financial security tied up in the business.

      Where does the money come from? Are you kidding we have some great primary weralth generating sectors such as mining, agriculture and tourism.

      In the last 5 years we have also used Government debt as a quasi wealth generator but that is not sustainable in the long run.

      Once you have primary wealth being generated you have the foundations of an economy. From that point it doesn’t matter if people are spending money on manafactured stuff or services. It is the same effect on spreading the primary wealth into secondary weath.

      I went to the shopping centre yesterday and the busiest shop was the ladies pedicure shop. You can’t get a pedicure online. Unskilled low paid students charging out an hourly rate greater than skilled tradesman.

      When those unskilled workers spend their low wages at the next shoptheir money is just as good as the money of a sacred manafacturer’s money.

      Last night the cafes and restraunts were buzzing. Services acotrel services.

    • Pattem says:

      02:09pm | 04/02/13

      @Tubesteak, youw wrote: “No one will ever convince me that a Falcodore is anywhere near what the Germans and Japanese are doing”

      +1

      Absolutely agree.  Why spend $35 000 on a Falcodore, when you can get a Camry, for example, at a similiar price with a much higher build quality?

    • ramases says:

      06:49pm | 04/02/13

      Our industries will not be retail or tourism, at least not home grown tourism or education.
        Firstly retail is dying a slow death of a thousand cuts or is that wage rises and rules and regulations all designed to stop people making a buck at reduced prices.
        Tourism, its cheaper and better to go overseas and be treated like a person than holiday here and be treated like a nuisance. Overpriced so called 5 star establishments that would not rate even two stars overseas. Its like comparing apples to oranges and until the Tourism industry realises that the patron is the one they need to pamper and look after and make prices reasonable then they will continue to fail to attract Australian holiday makers..
        Education is going the way of the dodo unless of course you have big money and can buy your way into courses and elite schools where the teachers teach. Public schooling is just becoming a day care centre for those aged 4 to 15 to allow the parents to go to work to afford to just buy the basics. We are turning out uneducated idiots who think the world owes them a living and act accordingly.  No homework, no wrong answers, multiple choice questions, weeks of cramming just for one exam a year that is the be all and end all of the amount of money that that school will get and little else.
        How many school children in your area can hold a complete conversation without “like, you know, and huh” making regular incursions into the sentences.
        How many school children do you know that could write a 1000 word essay on a supposed learnt subject without resorting to the internet for the complete thing and how many, if they could manage it could you read their handwriting.
        How many children could give change of $20.00 for an item costing $17.45 just off the top of their heads or add up the scores on a Golf card over nine holes without resorting to a calculator, sad isn’t it.
        That’s the way Australia is heading and unless something is done I will ask the last manufacturer, retailer or tourism operator to turn off the light as he either closes up shop or goes overseas.

    • Rose says:

      07:43am | 04/02/13

      It’s about time some of the old players got a shake-up, too many retailers charged too much for stuff comparable to what’s available cheaper elsewhere. I’m looking forward to seeing more retailers adapt to what the customer actually wants and not trying to make the customer fit into their mould.
      The other thing is that I will continue to shop online, cheaper, no traffic, parking or trading hour issues….win/win/win

    • expat says:

      01:32pm | 04/02/13

      I think a lot of people don’t understand exactly how retail works and why you pay more in Australia than you do overseas. If you think that Harvey Normal is more profitable than Best Buy in the US for example, think again. The profit margins in retail tend to be very similar across the planet, if that was not the case, the market would correct it very quickly.

      If you opened three identical Harvey Norman shops, one in the US, one in Australia and one online, they each have 3 very very different cost bases and markets to sell to.

      You have to understand that the Australian version of any product costs more for the shop to buy than the same product in the US or Asia, simply because the cost to get it here and the associated taxes all add up very quickly. Then consider you are paying 2 -3x more for the person to import it, sell it, deliver it and you can see how the cost quickly increases.

      I’m all for internet shopping, it promotes tax competition and the rapid globalisation of costs, good for me as a business person, good for the developing country, but not so good if you are working in a first world country.

    • Pattem says:

      02:25pm | 04/02/13

      @expat

      Your argument does nothing to justify the price discrepancies of downloadable goods.  For example, some of the Adobe products (cannot remember specifics off the top of my head) are 25-30% more expensive in Australia than the USA, when these products are “downloadable”.  You cannot say import, sale and deliver affect this pricing, because the steps are not part of a downloadable purchase.

      Also, any iTunes purchase is typically (up to) 30% more in Australia, than the equivalent item in the USA.

      I suspect this has more to do with distribution license rights, than with retail costing.

    • Rose says:

      06:35pm | 04/02/13

      expat, I recently read an article which explained many of the reasons we Aussies pay so much more for items than people overseas are prepared to. A lot of the reasons are pretty self explanatory, shipping, overheads etc but a large chunk of the extra costs simply comes from the Australian ‘willingness to pay”, that is, we’re so used to paying more that we generally just fall in and do it. Well, times are changing, I can buy 3 DVDs from Amazon UK and have them shipped here for less than it would cost to buy 2 here, sometimes even 1.
      It’s now time for Australian importers and retailers to ‘fall in’ with what our expectations are, because we are a far more educated customer base now and we are rapidly becoming aware of what things should cost!!

    • Anubis says:

      08:15am | 04/02/13

      A very poor statement there “But the savings rate has recently stopped rising. As long as incomes keep growing, this means consumers should have a little extra money to spare”. One of the reasons the savings rate has stopped rising is because of the spiralling price rises on everything else - including Electricity, Gas, Petrol, all Government charges increasing by the now mandatory annual above CPI increases (public transport, rates, fines, car registration, etc). People are concentrating on paying off their debts (Cradit Cards, Mortgages, Loans) and keeping the basics coming into the household (foos, energy, etc).

      This does not mean that there is more disposable income available for spending on Australia’s overpriced, poor quality retail sector. The retailers are a big part of the problem here by continuing to set prices on the ‘what the market will bear’ principle while Australian consumers are now much more savvy about what the real value of goods are by being able to compare (and purchase) from outlets overseas. The savings to be made are much greater than the GST difference and the service provided is usually much better than Australian retailers offer. You can purchase from Walmart in the US and receive your product quicker than if you purchased from an Aussie retailer, no delivery charge and free returns should the product require warranty repair. Not a single Aussie retailer, that I know of, offers that.

      Service in Australian Bricks and Mortar outlets is also very poor, if you can find sales staff at all - take note Myer and David Jones. A recent outing to a DJs store saw my wife looking to spend hundreds of dollars on product but after over an hour in store she did not see or speak with a single sales representative. She came home disillusioned and went on line, found what she wanted online and purchased the items from a US retailer. The goods arrived less than a week later.

      Why would we want to continue to spend our dollar with Australian retailers when the customer is generally treated with utter disdain and most sales people consider it an imposition on their precious time to lower themselves to assist customers. They would much rather be on the phone talking to their friends or besties about what a ‘bitching party they attended on Saturday’

      Australian retailers only have themselves to blame for their decline.

    • Pattem says:

      02:34pm | 04/02/13

      And all of this with Myer and DJ, when they promote themselves as more up-market department stores.  The price hikes at these stores should basically be for the better experience, the better customer service.

      If you actually received BETTER service at these stores, people might be willing to pay the extra cost.  The problem is, you don’t get that better service.

    • OverIt says:

      08:34am | 04/02/13

      Given the vastly increased competition with the availability of online shopping, you would expecte retailers here to provide excellent customer service.  Not so.  I recently tried on an item, found the right size but not in the right colour.  I asked if they could get it in from another of their stores (they didn’f offer this information).  They said they could, but I would have to pay a 20% deposit.  To transfer an item between two of their own stores, with an interested buyer in one of them.  That’s when I went online and found an interstate outlet that would provide the same item, with free shipping.  Much later I spoke to the Head Office about their policy, and received only the “This is our policy” mantra.

      Any retailer having a policy that creates an unnecessary inconvenience for the customer deserves all they get.

    • Pattem says:

      02:40pm | 04/02/13

      @OverIt stated: “Much later I spoke to the Head Office about their policy, and received only the “This is our policy” mantra”.

      It is that attitude which will be the death of many retailers in the country.  You have to: Adapt or Die.

      We see this happening with FTA TV.  With the onset of streaming alternatives, people can watch what they want, when they want. 

      Iview and SBS On Demand are streaks ahead of the FTA channels in Australia.

    • Rufus says:

      08:38am | 04/02/13

      I visited a Westfield on Sunday to watch a movie and we drove around for ten minutes looking to park. The place was packed.
      I lamented the loss of the weekend for so many retail workers to my wife and she scoffed that we can’t live in a nanny state.
      When I was a kid, Sunday was family roast day and after Sunday trading started it never happened much after that. We all drifted apart. Our obsession with the material comes at a greater cost than many believe.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      08:47am | 04/02/13

      Bring back tariffs.  And a parcel tax. And devalue the Australian dollar while you’re at it. Ridiculously overpriced just like Australian property…...

    • marley says:

      09:47am | 04/02/13

      For a guy who has issues with middle class welfare, I’m a bit surprised you’re in favour of propping up uncompetitive businesses and industries.  I want my money to be used in the most efficient way possible - that means I don’t want to pay taxes to support middle class folks having babies, and I don’t want to pay over the odds on consumer goods to support third rate business models.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      11:41am | 04/02/13

      @Marley- mercantilism works- see China, Japan et al. Free Trade doesn’t- see British Empire, United States etc. I have no problem with subsidizing manufacturing as long as it is productive such as heavy industry. Consumer goods, grossly inflated real estate and certain financial products such as complex derivatives are largely unproductive to nation building. Most middle class family welfare is merely rent seeking and largely unproductive towards nation building.

    • marley says:

      12:46pm | 04/02/13

      @Shane - I think free trade is working pretty well for North America at the moment.  It’s not free trade that got the US into trouble, it’s the poor domestic regulatory environment.  Same goes for Europe, so far as I can see.  Free trade opens up new markets for exports as well as bringing in cheaper consumer goods;  putting up tariff walls stifles the first and raises the cost of all those non-productive consumer items. I don’t think making Toyotas or Hyundai’s more expensive in order to keep Holden and Ford afloat is going to contribute to nation-building either.

      I agree with you on middle-class handouts and property values, though.  But damned if I want to see Australia go back to protectionism which put it 10 years behind the rest of the world.  It’s expensive enough here without putting up more barriers.

    • AdamC says:

      04:12pm | 04/02/13

      I think Shane must mean ‘protectionist’ rather than ‘mercantilist’. But China is not really either of those things, as they are usually defined.

      Australia had protectionist policies in place for much of its history since federation and especially from the 1930s. We got rid of them because they did not work. Why would they magically start working when the world economy is much more integrated than it was in the mid-twentieth century? I can hardly see people lining up to pay 25% more for iPhones and iPads due to import tarriffs, for example.

    • AdamC says:

      08:52am | 04/02/13

      Another good article from Jessica.

      Top-down analyses of retail are of limited use, in my view, given the vast differences between sectors, and even different competitors within sectors, of the industry. Proportionally greater spending on services is not a new trend. Nor is competition and a large amount of ‘creative destruction’ in retail. Neither, really, is the online channel, though some retailers were slow to embrace it.

      The high dollar, more cautious consumers and general price deflation are the novelty factors really hurting retail. Meanwhile, innovative formats like Costco and Topshop will be the leading beneficiaries of any increase in comsumer spending, provided they are able and willing to expand.

      I actually went to Zara over the weekend, for example, and was blown away by the quality, price and overall appeal of the merchandise there. No wonder so many Aussie apparel retailers are calling in the corporate undertakers. They are only now being expected to seriously compete.

    • Kika says:

      10:39am | 04/02/13

      I love Zara. I just can’t believe there isn’t one in Brisbane yet :-(

    • Neil says:

      08:54am | 04/02/13

      I think people are a bit teched out. I only bought my last laptop because I had to, my last one could only fit 1gb of ram. I didn’t even have to really. I have a perfectly fine desktop.

      I wish amazon sold food so I could pay 50%+ less!

      I really don’t like a lot of the retailer’s attitudes. They’re still growing, but just not by as much as they feel entitled to, which was about 4% while the credit boom was happening over the last 10 years or so and a lot of people were using credit cards and equity from their houses. Now they’re growing at around 2%, still growing mind you, yet they arrogantly DEMAND interest rate cuts.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      09:09am | 04/02/13

      Well, I’m currently looking at buying a bow, and I can buy it in Australia for $320, or I can buy it from the US for $139.99.  The US one I need to add postage, however, I doubt it will be almost $200 worth of postage.  If the difference were less, I could justify it, however, this is a rather high premium.

    • Colin says:

      09:45am | 04/02/13

      Ooooh, it thinks that it’s Bear Grylls..!

    • marley says:

      09:50am | 04/02/13

      I just ordered some CDs on-line from the UK.  They’re half the price of the only on-line Aussie vendor that had these particular items, and the cost of shipping is less than a dollar more than the local firm was going to charge.  Go figure.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      10:09am | 04/02/13

      @Tim, I’m hoping if you’re talking about an archery bow that you either live in a state where there aren’t licensing requirements or you have a license, otherwise importing it from the US you could face some hefty fines if caught and aside from that I believe there are also a number of taxes/tariffs that get included once it hits Australian territory.

    • patsy says:

      10:17am | 04/02/13

      @Marley-I like to buy Australian but, can’t aford to. I’m starting my CD collection again after my home burned down. I shop at CD WOW. They get CDs from London, California, Hong Kong and all over the place.  So far I have 52 CDs for $298. It’s free delivery if you order is over $60 and insurance is only 99 cents.

    • marley says:

      10:20am | 04/02/13

      @PscyhoHyena - maybe he’s talking about a violin bow.  Although, his handle would suggest, possibly not….

    • Mephisto says:

      10:42am | 04/02/13

      @PsychoHyena
      No license requirement for ownership of Archery equipment in Australia & nor should there be. The only additional tariffs/duties are for archery gear valued over $1k

      I’ve imported about 1/2 dozen bows & various other sporting/fishing/camping goods from os, saving thousands. I’ll buy locally when the pricing & customer experience matches my online experience.

      I get by far more informed service via email or over the phone from os retailers than I could ever hope for here in oz. Couple that with shipping from US/UK often being quicker t han within Australia, makes the choice to shop online from os retailers the logical choice for me. Your mileage may vary.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      11:05am | 04/02/13

      Hi Psycho,

      Yep, read through the legalities.  It’s a recurve bow and it doesn’t require a licence in Vic.  A hunting licence is required should I go hunting, however.  Crossbows are the only ones that are restricted on import, out of the common classes of bows (that, and tiny compounds get caught up too, now and then).

    • Pattem says:

      02:49pm | 04/02/13

      @Tim, just don’t go using that bow in public spaces, such as parks, State Land, National Parks.  About the only legal place is a shooting range.. smile

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      04:14pm | 04/02/13

      “just don’t go using that bow in public spaces, such as parks, State Land, National Parks.”

      There are a few places in public spaces…fortunately not just shooting ranges smile  You just have to know the time of the year, what you’re hunting for and where you are smile

    • Rob says:

      09:32am | 04/02/13

      Interesting models starting to emerge in USA, where some of the more expensive high volume on-line clothing retailers are starting to open small stores (“guideshops”) in high traffic urban areas - specifically so that potential purchasers can try garments on, make sure they have the right sizing for that brand, then they can get on-line and buy with confidence.
      Whether we see something like that emerge here, who knows - in the US it is probably good business, since many retailers were offering free-returns to encourage purchasers to take a punt on purchasing sizes.

      This is an example:

      http://www.effortlessgent.com/bonobos-guideshop/

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      09:38am | 04/02/13

      What gets up my nose about today’s retailers, particularly the larger ones, is that they are constantly whinging! They buy most of their goods, particularly Whitegoods, TVs, Clothes, Furniture &, increasingly, food from other countries where labour is dirt cheap, or the government uses prison inmates to manufacture goods but for which they get no pay, or children are used & get paid a few cents per day - if they are lucky. These Australian Retailers buy their stock at rock-bottom prices and then when they put them into their stores they charge prices as if those goods were manufactured in Australia and Australian rates of pay!
      Then when we “go shopping overseas” via the Internet these retailers scream like mad that we are avoiding Australia’s GST - a Tax 100% of which goes, or should, to the Australian Government. They conveniently forget that, unless we are prepared to go through all the reams of paperwork to get an exemption, which can take many months, we do pay the equivalent of our GST to the country we buy from. A couple of weeks ago I wanted 3 specific books. To buy here in a shop the price was $56.84. To buy from an Australian-based On-line shop owned by a big company the price was exactly the same except that they wanted to charge me $22 postage & handling. All up $78.84 & to rub salt into the wound they told me it would take about 2 weeks. Having sent numerous parcels via Australia post none of them have taken more that a couple of days, so it’s not Australia Post causing the delay.
      I was able to buy exactly the same books, not some pirated editions, from an On-Line book-shop in London. The Total Cost? $AU25.47 Including Postage & Handling! They arrived in 5 days.
      Australian Retailers are ripping Australian Consumers off big time.
      Why should I pay $45 for a shirt which cost the retailer, all up, just $3?

    • SAm says:

      11:23am | 04/02/13

      That is exactly my gripe. They moan and whine that we are ‘destroying jobs’ by importing our stuff, but all they do is the exact same thing, whack a markup on it and flog it. Give me a break. They add no value to the product. I remember hearing some whinging ‘small business’ owner on the radio complaining that customers come in, size up then buy online. She followed up with ‘Im a small business that IMPORTS all my stock..’. So, really?
      Also on the GST, you are correct. We often pay sales tax on online shopping, depending on the location of the shop. Its part of the deal. Just as if any overseas people shop from an Australian retailer, they will pay GST. There are ways around it, yes, but its not worth the effort and in the end, the shop that sold the good collects the tax for whatever jurisdiction they belong to. Why Australian retailers feel that overseas shops should be collecting money for the Australian government baffles me.
      Let em all rot, useless bunch

    • Iggy Crash says:

      10:30am | 04/02/13

      The incessant screaming for more “growth” is ridiculous. Honestly, if you’re making a profit (whether smaller or larger than the year before) your business works. The wanting to have millions or billions of dollars in profit that does nothing is what is killing retail. Be happy with modest profits because they are still profits. If retailers stop the 200% mark-ups in the name of shareholders I will start shopping again!

    • Ned says:

      11:22am | 04/02/13

      Why should I pay 10% gst to a foreign country?

    • marley says:

      12:48pm | 04/02/13

      You don’t.  You pay it to the Treasury.

    • Chris L says:

      11:59am | 04/02/13

      I’ll miss the book and movie/music stores if they go out of fashion. I’ll buy items online if they’re unavailable here, but I don’t mind paying the extra price to be able to browse the items on a shelf first. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      01:18pm | 04/02/13

      “Maybe I’m just old fashioned. “

      So, in my example, you’d be happy paying $320 instead of $140?

    • Chris L says:

      01:29pm | 04/02/13

      For a book? I wouldn’t pay $140 either.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      01:32pm | 04/02/13

      I think he means like $15-$20 etc. I still buy local and I’m a young’n and only go over the net when I have to.

    • marley says:

      01:44pm | 04/02/13

      @ChrisL - living as I do in small-town Oz, I don’t have the luxury of decent bookstores or music stores (though I must say, I haven’t been impressed by the ones in some of the larger cities either, though I recall a terrific CD and LP store in Perth). 

      I actually enjoy browsing for CDs on line - I can check out prices in the US, the UK or a half dozen other countries, from Amazon and from regular stores, and even listen to clips of the music on some of the sites.  I can look into what’s about to be released and what’s on sale on three continents.  When it comes to classical music and jazz, the foreign stores have much more choice and are generally cheaper, and their sites provide quite useful guides and links to reviews and similar types of music.  That said,  I’ve managed to find a few bargains on the Oz sites as well.  Would you believe, I got a great deal on a classical CD box from, of all places, J&B Hi Fi?

      Sadly, though, even the CDs will be disappearing, and everyone will simply be downloading directly from the companies.  I’m not sure how old-model record stores are going to compete, just as bookstores are struggling with the competition from e-books.  I guess that’s progress.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      01:48pm | 04/02/13

      No, in my example referenced above.  The discrepancy stands on books as well, however.  As much as I love local bookshops, the cost is too high to justify shopping locally.  Have a look at language courses…the prices here are extortionate.

    • T says:

      01:17pm | 04/02/13

      I work in retail and I have for almost 10 years, I started out in a book store which really opened my eyes to why things were so over priced and the prices here Vs the prices overseas.

      This is my understanding of it, and my opinion.

      The book industry was over priced because thepublishers and suppliers had put the cost of a book very high (most of the time the cost we the bookseller bought the book for from a supplier was the cost the consumers were paying in America or GB). They are the ones who sell to retailers and the cost vs the RRP was not a huge mark up.  We would recieve a book, the cost price was maybe around $20.50, thats what we bought it for. We would sell it for $35.95 -$38.95 depending on its RRP, which for a long time we stuck to which isn’t a huge mark up. Now factor in the crazy rent the shopping centres charge, plus electricity, Phone and internet, an operating systems, an IT guy to continually monitor and update your operating system, plus franchise cost, plus insurance, super, work cover, and wages (and other cost my bosses may never have told me about)... we had to have at least 5 staff memebers on at a time, and the most would be around 8, you needed that many staff because one is for security, books got stolen ALL the time. Consistently, so you need extra staff presence to reduce theft. And also being a specialised store you need the extra hands on experience, I sometimes got caught with a customer well over half an hour just trying to find a certain book, than another 25 minutes to see if I could order it, how much it was, and its availability as there were so many publishers and suppliers it was difficult to know if you could even get it. And that happened daily.

      I now work with small appliances, and the story is a bit different. It certainly isnt as tight as selling books. But is in no way a massvie mark up, it is still around 50% - 60% depending to buy from an Australian supplier.
      But you have to understand the little retailers don’t have much give, the bigger retailers will obviously have more, and I really only understand two different industries. I have never worked with clothes or electricals

      My BF bought a skin care product for me in Vegas, $30 he paid for it. It was on special and the girl selling it convinced him to buy it. (It works amazingly actually so thank you pushy American sales girl!)
      I went to purchase it here at a local shopping centre because the wait online was too long (you know those small stalls they set up in the middle and the sales assistants hassle you) And you wouldn’t believe what they wanted me to pay for the exact same product… $250 on sale….
      WTF? Now I work in retail and I understand importing this product from Israel would be expensive… but $250?!?!?

      I agree that most items you buy are hidiously marked up. But try and consider the retailers point of view in some circumstances before you label us all blood sucking leeches. Because retailers can mainly only purchase off Australia manufacturers and suppliers, granted we should make it that shops can order directly from the country of orgin without a middle man, it may make it cheaper? But that may not be plausable either…. So maybe some of the blame for the inflated prices can be given to the suppliers of this country?

      Again I only work in retail so I could be totally wrong!

    • AdamC says:

      01:41pm | 04/02/13

      T, I agree with some of what you are saying. Demonstrably, Australian retailers are not making, and have never made, outrageous profits driven by huge mark ups. Therefore, the reason why we seem to pay more here must be more complex causes than simply price gouging on the part of the retailers.

    • Esteban says:

      04:07pm | 04/02/13

      I don’t know why any sector of retail is struggling in Australia.

      With all the free advice on how to run a retail business in Australia just by reading the thoughts of the retail gurus who contribute to the punch.

      Clearly you are all successful in self employment so to give up your time to provide valuable information to retailers is really noble.

      Now I just can’t understand why Australian retailers are not heeding this free advice.

 

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