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Retailers, you’re boring us. We’ll spend more if given a better reason to shop.

keep calm

Retail trade figures released this week show that spending in department stores crashed 8% in July, with total retail spending pretty much flat. But when you ask consumers they seemingly cannot pinpoint exactly why their discretionary spending has stalled. The impending election in Australia? The tentative world economy?

An article in the SMH today talks about this apathy as being something “wrong with consumers” – a mystery, puzzling illness to ponder. 

But what if the problem is not the consumers, rather it is the retailers and their failure to compel us to spend. After all consumers are still spending, it is just not going into bricks and mortar stores. As Citi analyst Craig Woolford said the ”consumer is solid, but retail is weak”. 

Australian retailers moved online a decade late. But more than just being a poor distribution strategy, this indicates a behind the curve attitude when it comes to innovation and progress. Many of our struggling, big brands simply lack vision and passion for what they do, resulting in uninspired shop fit-outs, luke warm customer service – and no surprise, an apathetic customer who is not spending.

Meanwhile, consumers now live online and are bombarded constantly with content from all around the world – the funnest, craziest, coolest, newest things on demand. So of course our expectations of shops locally has risen. But there is disconnect with what’s on offer.

Give us a reason to spend and we will.

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