Finance Your Budget Retail spending changes as we increasingly value the social experience

Retail spending changes as we increasingly value the social experience

Shopping experience.
People are looking for a social shopping experience. Photo: Getty
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It’s not news to anyone that Australians love to shop but there are some dramatic cultural changes under way that show where we spend our bucks is changing dramatically.

While previous decades were about the stuff we bought, the networked digital world seems to be making us crave social consumer experiences.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show this changing face of Australian consumers. 

Despite talk of flat wages and rising living costs, we’re lashing out big time on eating out with spending in cafés and restaurants up almost 7 per cent in just one year. 

Sean Sands from Monash University said the strong growth in dining spending reflects consumer connection ambitions. 

“It’s driven by people’s desires to socialise,” he said.

Between June 2016 and June 2017 spending on household goods rose 6.9 per cent. But we’re getting choosy on where we we buy, with spending in department stores actually falling 2.4 per cent despite spending on clothing, footwear and personal accessories up 1.07 per cent.

Dr Sands said the drop of spending in department stores reflected a return to the high street experience.

“A lot of people want to shop locally,” he said. 

Retail and business futurist Morris Miselowski told The New Daily things have changed significantly in Australia’s shopping landscape since the global financial crisis in 2008.

“We’ve seen retail change dramatically over the last decade,” he said.

The arrival of international brands opening flagship stores in the heart of our capital cities has been a significant part of that.

But big-name brands aren’t finding it smooth sailing, British brand Topshop has entered administration. This is in contrast to several other imports, like Zara, H&M and Aldi which so far have been able to deliver what Australians are looking for.

Mr Miselowski said Topshop failed to understand what Australians want and so we didn’t go for their offer.  

He told The New Daily that Topshop didn’t grasp that “Australians are more laid back” in their shopping and their style “didn’t make sense to our local vernacular”, he said.

Mr Miselowski said as online spending has grown, many people have started treating some big stores like showrooms, going there to check prices.

But some household names are doing well. Harvey Norman is one reporting net profits up 29 per cent to $448.9 million on the back of people buying household goods as we build and renovate at record levels.

In the post global financial crisis world many households have cut back spending on credit with the return of lay-by and other new retail functions through online platforms.

Dr Sands said one key area the recent sales figures showed was the continued growth in online shopping. 

“Australians are spending more online and are purchasing from small and medium enterprises at a larger rate,” he said. 

Will On, co-founder of online shipping platform Shippit, which ships products for many Australian retailers, said they were seeing a huge growth in online retailing as Australians look for flexibility. 

“Australian consumers are looking for the basics,” he said. For many products “it’s a lot easier to buy online instead of picking up”.

Shippit’s most shipped items are clothing, followed by pet food, however the things Australians are looking for varies significantly during the week.

New technology companies like Shippit are able to see how spending changes across a single day.

Mr On told The New Daily that three-hour express clothing deliveries are more popular on Friday afternoon than any other time during the week as people planning to go out left shopping to the last minute. 

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