Australians are increasingly taking their purchases to online stores overseas, prompting experts to warn of the hidden costs.
Earlier this week, industry analysts IBISWorld reported that, despite strong industry growth, the online presence of domestic bricks-and-mortar retailers continues to lag behind that of their international competitors.
Consumers are choosing foreign sellers with “wider product ranges” and “more advanced and engaging websites”, the analysts found.
Internet purchases may have slowed in October, as the National Australia Bank reported earlier this week.
But shoppers could simply be gearing up for a last minute splurge. It seems December 13 is usually the “magic day” for online purchases.
If you’re one of these bargain hunters, then be wary of the “hidden” fees, a consumer body warned.
Tom Godfrey from advocacy group CHOICE said shoppers should be careful not to get swept up in sales frenzies like the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, lest they fall into debt.
“As with any sales period we would caution consumers against getting caught up in the hype and to plan their purchases within a set budget before jumping in,” Mr Godfrey told The New Daily.
Because the Australian exchange rate has dropped substantially from the highs of 2011 and 2012, CHOICE urged consumers to make sure they’re aware of “hidden fees” such as shipping costs and exchange rate conversion fees if they’re buying from an offshore retailer.
Despite these fees, The New Daily was able to find that, in many cases, it could still benefit Australian consumers to hit up US stores.
For example, a pair of Nike Free running shoes for sale on the US website Eastbay would set you back $US99.99, minus a discount of 20 per cent (available as of Thursday evening).
Even accounting for a $US29.99 shipping fee and the current exchange rate, the whole purchase would wind up costing you $A140.26.
By comparison, the exact same pair of shoes on The Athletes Foot website would cost you $A169.95 with free shipping. You still wind up nearly $30 better off buying from the US store.
In the same vein, purchasing a Skip Hop baby bag from Zulily would cost you $A51.94 with delivery costs taken into account.
The exact same bag would cost $A89.95 plus $A8 shipping from an Australian retailer on eBay.
Popular children’s books
A copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would cost a whopping $A39 from Australia’s Angus & Robertson once you account for delivery.
The same book was only $A24.58 from Amazon-owned Book Depository.
If you wanted the triple-play Blu-ray edition of Star Trek Beyond, it would cost you $A27.87 from Amazon including delivery, but $A34.98 in-store at JBHiFi or an extra $A1.69 if you want it posted to your door.
Perhaps the most generous savings can be made on specific electronic items. The New York based camera store B&H will sell you a Nikon D3400 DSLR camera with two lenses, a camera bag and a memory card for a grand total of $A869.09.
The same camera and lenses – no extras – will alone set you back more than $A1,300 from the Aussie retailer Camera House.