Retailers' GST red herring misses point

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  • Updated:4 Jan 2011

01.Big stores need to lift game on prices, service & range

CHOICE says the advertising campaign launched today by a group of retailers attacking the tax treatment of online overseas sales, is an alarmist red herring driven by the self interest of some of the biggest players.

The people's watchdog says the larger chains are seeking to hijack debate on the future of Australian retail. The retailers are crying poor over the GST-free threshold on low-value imports and creating a scare campaign over retail jobs.

CHOICE says the federal government’s plan for an independent productivity commission inquiry into the retail sector is the best way forward. Especially for protecting the interests of smaller retailers.

“The big chains should recognise that it's their high prices, limited range and poor customer service that increasingly encourages people to use the internet,” says CHOICE’s Christopher Zinn.

“Consumers are simply chasing the best deal and the best service - these days it’s often found online.”

For example, you can buy a digital camera online from Myer for $557 (including GST, with delivery in ‘5-15 working days’). The same camera can be purchased though an Australian online retailer for $433.50 (including GST and delivery) – a saving of $123.50 or 22 per cent.

“This is not about GST. Major stores are not being forced to charge these high prices. This debate is about quality of service, competitive pricing and the inability of some retailers to understand the future of internet shopping.”

CHOICE says the large retailers’ suggestion that lowering the GST threshold will make everything right again in the shopping malls is simply a distraction. Australia retailers need to raise their game and to give consumers a fair go, instead of giving them a hard time for seeking the best deals.

"Our message to consumers is don’t be fooled by this expensive ad campaign," says Zinn.

"Compare the price of products from shop-front retailers with those online – you will be surprised how much money you can save, even without going overseas."


*Purchasing the same camera (Canon IXUS 1000 HS) from Hong Kong through a company with Australia-based sales staff will cost you $346 (including delivery by FedEx in 1-3 days), a saving of $211 or 38% off the Myer price.

Media Contact:

• Christopher Zinn, CHOICE Director Campaigns and Communications: 0425 296 442
• Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Spokesperson: 0430 172 669



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