Written on the 13 September 2012


AS THE retail sector battles to escape the gloom of recent years, those businesses that have kept their heads above water are discovering a whole new world ahead.

One in every three customers now expects businesses to be contactable around the clock, seven days a week, a new survey has revealed.

The startling statistic underlines the rapidly changing face of the retail industry and underscores why those in the sector must evolve quickly to survive.

The survey of more than 500 retail businesses, conducted by the BDO consultancy, found mobile devices, social media and other new technologies have shifted customer expectations in favour of non-stop service.

“Customers can now access information at anytime, anywhere on their smart phone and will increasingly expect to be able to interact with organisations at any time of the day,” says BDO partner Don Collins.

“While this will no doubt place great pressure on retailers to keep up with this ‘need-it-now’ mentality, it also provides a great opportunity to enhance brand and service delivery by creating a more compelling customer experience.”

The shift in the way we shop comes as Queensland’s battling retail industry attempts to drag itself out of nearly five years of hell. Many businesses have already become casualties, but hope is on the horizon.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show Sunshine State merchants recorded 0.5 per cent revenue growth in May, which was on-par with the national seasonally adjusted average.

Main drivers of growth were cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.4 per cent), household goods (0.8 per cent) and department stores, clothing, footwear and personal accessories (0.5 per cent).

Segments that suffered in May include food retailing (-0.1 per cent) and supermarkets or grocery stores (-0.3 per cent). The June figures were even better when retail sales in Queensland were up 1.6 per cent, well ahead of forecasts of a 0.6 per cent increase.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is still quantifying the impact of July 1 income tax cuts and cash handouts as part of the Federal Government’s new carbon tax package.

However, executive director Russell Zimmerman acknowledges sales can improve as a result of government stimulus.

“We have seen positive signs from the modest boost in discretionary spending. As the carbon tax’s flow-on effects are felt, we might see some positive signs provided that retail trade figures continue their upward trend,” he says

To read the entire retail feature series, get your copy of the August issue of Brisbane Business News Magazine - out now at a newsagent near you.






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