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Tag Archives: consumers

Rachel Wells

May 11, 2012

The deals being negotiated between local importers and international brands could bring an end to the heavy discounts shoppers now enjoy online. <I>Graphic: Liam Phillips</i>The deals being negotiated between local importers and international brands could bring an end to the heavy discounts shoppers now enjoy online. Graphic: Liam Phillips

AUSTRALIAN consumers will be forced to pay substantially more for their favourite fashion brands as a growing number of local importers reach agreements with international brands to stop selling their clothes to Australians on overseas websites or to lift their web prices.

While this will be welcome news to the country’s struggling retailers, it means shoppers will no longer be able to save up to 50 per cent by buying labels from overseas.

The distributors, who typically have exclusive wholesale rights to some international brands in Australia, say they have no choice while the government refuses to lower the $1000 GST-free threshold for imported goods.

The International Fashion Group's Jacki Bresic at a Toorak boutique yesterday: "It is the only way we can compete."The International Fashion Group’s Jacki Bresic at a Toorak boutique yesterday: “It is the only way we can compete.” Photo: Eddie Jim

Jacki Bresic, of the International Fashion Group, last month reached an agreement with popular US denim brands Paige Denim and AG Adriano Goldschmied to prevent major international online stores, including the Amazon-owned Shopbop and Revolve, selling their jeans to customers here.

Meanwhile, celebrity denim favourite True Religion agreed it would continue to sell to Australians – but at a higher price.

Ms Bresic said she was working with her other import brands on the issue.

”It is the only way we can compete on price with these overseas websites and try to prevent more and more retailers from closing their doors,” she said. ”When you’ve got overseas websites selling the same pair of jeans for $100 or $150 cheaper because they don’t have to pay the outdated taxes and duties that we do, then what hope do we have?”

Mattias Friberg, director of Some Agency, which imports Swedish brand Dr Denim, said preventing international websites from selling to Australian consumers was the best ”Band-Aid” approach to stop the flow of sales going offshore.

He has negotiated with Dr Denim to prevent UK online fashion giant Asos selling the brand to Australian shoppers.

He said brands such as Dr Denim were agreeing to limit sales to Australia or to sell at higher prices because it helped to ”protect the integrity of the brand and the retailers who have supported the brand in this market for many years”.

The Age is aware of at least half a dozen fashion distributors, some who import up to a dozen brands, who have reached agreements or are negotiating to set prices or limit supply to Australia.

The increasing trend of retailers blocking access to US websites has also led to a rise in companies that forward items on to Australia for a fee.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission did not want to comment on individual cases, but a spokesman said ”impediments to emerging competition involving online traders is an area of priority”.

”Certain behaviour employed to underwrite regional pricing strategies can in some circumstances raise concerns under the competition provisions.”

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Julian Lee | March 9, 2009

IF THERE were any lingering doubts that Gordon Gekko and all that he stood for was dead, the latest consumer research confirms it.

Two studies tapping into the pulse of Australian consumers indicate that the unbridled spending of yesteryear is unlikely to return, even when the economy revives.

And despite the Federal Government’s best efforts to revive consumption of TVs, fridges and consumables, its stimulus package appears to have failed, with consumer confidence remaining brittle and money ending up in savings.

Just under half the people who took part in a survey in late January by the Government’s researcher, Colmar Brunton, said they had received one of the three handouts and, of those, only 13 per cent believed it would make a “significant difference” in helping the economy or their situation.

Releasing its report the same day, Ipsos Mackay, which gauges consumer sentiment through focus groups, said consumers were reporting they thought the package “misguided’.

Colmar Brunton found that among the 1007 people it surveyed the stimulus package had failed to encourage Australians to spend.

Colmar Brunton’s managing director, Peter Harris, said: “They used it to reduce their debt or put it against their mortgage. People have started saving for a rainy day.”

Forty-one per cent said they had put off buying expensive items.

Data aside, both researchers said companies must face up to the fact that the mindset of their customers was undergoing “profound change”.

“The Australian consumer that we knew over the last decade is going to be a completely different animal in the next six months,” Mr Harris told a gathering of marketing professionals last week.

The director of research at Ipsos Mackay, Rebecca Huntley, said people were drawing parallels between their own unchecked spending on credit cards and the large debts the corporate world had run up.

“They are developing a more sober attitude towards debt,” Dr Huntley said.

“I wouldn’t say that it was a repudiation of capitalism but a recognition that the market is not going to look after them.”

One participant in the sessions – held in January in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville, Dubbo and Ballarat – told Ipsos researchers: “Greed does not work; greed is not good.”

Pressure on household budgets was forcing people to get by without some items. Over time those changes would become habitual, Dr Huntley said. “Once you have done without that second car or a new pair of shoes every second week then it is hard to go back if you have lived like that for a while.”