I've been hearing some conflicting reports lately about the retail sector - sometimes there'll be articles about how people are keeping their wallets closed this festive season, yet later another article will pop up about how Christmas sales this year are expected to be the same or higher than last year's. Oh, and there's also been the announcement of profit downgrades from JB Hi-fi and Kathmandu.
So I am curious to know what are your views on the future of the retail sector, based on your own experience when you are shopping?
I must say, JB Hi-fi still seems to get a lot of people through the doors, but it is more browsing than anything. When people do buy, they are only buying relatively small priced items, not the big screen tvs or the home entertainment system.
With department stores like Myer and DJ's, I went to them in Sydney yesterday at about 9am for the boxing day sales, and there really weren't that many people. They had security guards at each end of the escalators to prevent chaos, but there weren't enough people there to cause chaos (although by about noon the amount of people had about tripled).
I noticed two things during the day:
1. I think we live in a "I want it now" society, and people don't really want to travel up eight floors in large department stores to get it. JB Hi-fi probably has it right in this aspect - just have one floor, and create a 'frenzy' environment to make everything look cheap. I think the days of the glamorous high rise department store buildings are limited. I also query why they even need so many levels - no one really goes to them to buy DVDs, tvs or white goods anymore, as there are plenty of other stores that can do a better deal.
2. The 'discounts' weren't really that great. The Van Heusen business shirts they were selling for $40 can be bought at that price during sales at other times of the year. The really nice Van Heusen 'slim' shirts were still the same price as usual, no discount. I've also been keeping my eye on the PS3 deals at JB Hi-fi, and they haven't changed at all through Christmas and boxing day.
There's also been a lot of articles mentioning how online shopping may one day kill off brick and mortar retailers, but personally, I like to see and touch an item in person before I buy it, and I also don't like using my credit card online, so the price reduction would have to be really great for me to turn to online.
What does everyone think?