The Australian National Retailers Association has made a submission to the Productivity Commission to open whenever they like apart from Anzac Day, Xmas Day & Good Friday. There are a few other items requested such as a retail advisory panel to the government and a Retail Minister. The flexible retail opening hours is to counteract the increase in online shopping. I think that last years request for a tax on online purchases would have been a better action as I'm sure that the main attraction of shopping online are the cheaper prices available. In my opinion opening around the clock just gives the shopper extra time opportunities to make that necessary purchase. Meandering around a shopping centre at 2am and making unnecessary purchases I just don't see. If I haven't bought that Mother's Day present and its the 11pm the night before then I need a kick in the pants not longer shopping hours. Although the seventy hour week is now commonplace we need to allocate necessary personal time and learn to time manage.

The recent swift rise of the Aussie Dollar is rumoured to possibly affect an increase in the official Reserve Bank interest rate. Having said this the dollar pulled back a smidge this morning. Furhter rises in the dollar could negatively affect retail sales and cause more heartache for already struggling retailers. This is on top of the threat of extra taxes and rising household costs especially energy costs. I feel that one could not design a worse possible scenario for shops and their keepers.

API has reported a half yearly loss of over $35 million compared to the $10.62 million profit for the previous corresponding period. Regardless of this API intends to increase its Priceline Pharmacy expansion by increasing it's conversion rate. If this is so we shall see more Priceline Pharmacy design & shopfits in the next year. API will, in my opinion, design the expansion to profit in the face of a flat general retail climate. I have tended to feel that because pharmacy design and shopfits are generally slow at the moment then the pharmacy industry may also be suffering poor retail sales. I feel that API have the experience and skill to overcome this if need be.

With electricity prices set to rise substantially over the next few years due to infrastructure costs and cost of solar panel subsidies it's good to know that retail/hospitality designers can design into their projects LED lighting which can cut 50-90% off electricity lighting bills. Maintenance costs are also substantially reduced. Clubs and pubs which are currently having to put their positions forward regarding gaming machine/gamer responsibilities should now be able to say that they are consciously trying to achieve Carbon Reduction Commitments especially when you imagine how much lighting is used in an average club. LED lighting can be used for downlighting, spotlighting, under bar pelmet lighting, decorative pendant lighting and general ambient lighting. As well as being dimmable LED lighting can be obtained in any colour without filters.

Westfield and Harvey Norman are tackling the Online Buying paradigm shift by creating their own online website. If we extrapolate this example/pattern we may well find retail designers, shop employees and even mall cleaners professional dinosaurs in the near future.

According to Dun and Bradstreet it seems that the two year low in retail sales expectations among other things is related to the winding down of the government's stimulus package. Other factors seem to be the rising price of fuel, wages and the tendancy for people to pay off their debts and save instead of spending. This shows a lack of consumer confidence in our economy in the short term. Even heavy discounting and attractive deals have not loosened the average Joe's purse strings.

 

The fairly consistent rise in the Aussie Dollar to a current price of 103.65 US cents makes it more and more attractive for retail customers to pay in US dollars for online purchases. The quick and easy service combined with increasing confidence in online security when dealing with reputable known websites has helped skyrocket internet trading and distress poor store traders who are also trying to battle slow trade related items such as fuel prices, interest rates and the overall bad international economies. The author has himself recently discovered the money saving opportunities of buying the odd neccessity online (up to half the price of regular buying for me). Although he doesn't do this often he is deeply sorry. I'm sure even retailer staff/store owners are increasingly doing the same. How shall society and in particular the retail industry deal with this paradigm shift.