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Published 10 October 2012 04:54, Updated 10 October 2012 09:47
Have passport, will travel ... Australians are waiting and saving not only to see the sights on overseas holidays, but for the chance to shop. Photo: Ross Duncan
Consumers might complain about the cost of living and job security but their pessimism doesn’t seem to be affecting their love of travel, particularly overseas travel. Or, increasingly, their love of shopping overseas.
In our most recent Mind & Mood report, while many participants continued to complain about the pressure on household budgets, they were still enthusiastic about spending on holidays, particularly to Asia where the strong Australian dollar stretches further than usual.
In fact overseas travel has acted as a kind of post-GFC balm for consumers, both an escape from Australia and a reinforcement that we are still a great country to live in.
What’s noticeable too is that Australians are waiting and saving not only for these overseas holidays but for the chance to shop during these trips.
Shopping has become as important as, if not more so than, sightseeing for travellers. Consumers in our groups talk about saving their money to spend during the next adventure overseas, primed by internet shopping for the bargains to be had in Asia and the United States.
“I probably get 80 per cent of my stuff overseas. I go overseas every year and I wait until I get overseas and I do all my shopping in the States. I come back with two suitcases of [stuff]. It is half the price what you pay here.” “For clothes I wait until I go overseas, to America. Clothes are heaps cheaper over there.”
“My mum is in America at the moment and I sent her a big shopping list because MAC make-up is less than half the price there than it is here. I bought all of my make-up when I was in the US.”
Perhaps this is why BIS Shrapnel managing director Robert Mellor has stated that the high numbers of Australians heading overseas on holiday and doing their shopping there is having a more damaging effect on the retail sector than online shopping.
It’s not just the range and price of products you can buy overseas that have enchanted Australian travellers. It’s also the retail experience and service levels to be found in Asia and America. There was a time Australian consumers cringed at the seemingly over-to-top attention from American service staff or the opulence of certain Asian retail environments. This is less so now.
So much so, Australian consumers are wondering why our local retailers haven’t adopted some of the techniques used overseas to enhance the retail and service experience. A glass of champagne in store during late night shopping, freebies and samples, entertainment, free advice – anything that makes shopping in “real” environments worth the traffic and the parking dramas.
Smart retailers know that their competitors are now global rather than just local, not just because of the net but because of these overseas spending sprees.