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March 4, 2011: Retailer relief from mall gougers?…Myer goes and does it…Betta now a NARTA groupie…Just bitchin’…

Definitely worth a read this week is retail consultant Michael Ryan’s observations in Inside Retailing that shopping centre managers may have to alter their ‘use ’em and lose ’em’ attitude towards their tenants in the light of soft retail sales and the march of the online alternative.

‘During a pathetic year for retail sales in 2010, average occupancy cost ratios at the nation’s shopping centres rose from their already robust levels. The sight of popular retailers exiting local shopping centres because the landlord has churned the space for a quick rent gain is depressingly common…’ noted Mr Ryan.

To the surprise of many, Myer has actually gone through with its threat to open a GST-free online outlet based in China (Hong Kong), as reported in RetailBiz and elsewhere.

The launch of the website follows Myers’ skirmish with the Feds on GST-free sales from overseas.

The new site, doesn’t carry the Myer logo – or much in the way of products for that matter.No photographic products – as yet. One wonders if Australian suppliers will support products shipped from China by Myer with warranty protection (immediately putting its GST-paying customers at a disadvantage), and how Myer deals with the new Australian Consumer Laws from the new site. This story is likely to have a few sequels!

The news that BSR (Betta Electrical) has joined Australia’s independent buying group NARTA, has been reported extensively, with Connected Australia describing it as a ‘collapse’ in one story.

However, ‘our own’ John Swainston (Maxwell International) offered a more positive interpretation of the decision in a follow-up article.

‘It foreshadows a need for a growing “working together” between manufacturers and retailers to get the various elements of the value chain right – for their businesses and for the public perception of value that retailers in Australia can and do offer, which has largely been ignored or misrepresented by public media in recent months,’ said Mr Swainston.

Apple has launched a second iteration of the iPad, to mixed reviews. Patrick Avenell from Current chose to review the press release instead, and wasn’t at all impressed by the purple hue of the prose! Mr Avenell by-lined the story, ‘not in Cupertino, California’ (What, no swanky media junket? There must be some mistake!)

Talking of Apple, there was a mildly feisty exchange in Connected between that enfant terrible of Australian retailing, Ruslan Koglan, who called JB HiFi, ‘Apple’s bitch’, asserting that 30 percent of the retailer’s sales are of Apple products, and JB CEO Terry Smart, who basically responded that JB ain’t no-one’s bitch – girlfriend! All very lovely.

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