Dominique Lamb CEO National Retail Association

First the good news. I declare this column a US election-free zone. There’s plenty of speculation about what it all means for Australia and our economy. I’ll leave that to the “experts”.

Much closer to home and, I think, far more relevant to NRA members is the research released by the Commonwealth Bank on Friday, in its Retail Insights report. Retail Insights is a wide-ranging analysis of the Australian retail sector, based on surveys of retailers and shoppers about purchasing and sales habits.

It contains some very valuable insights into consumer behaviour, perception of value and the influence of price positioning on purchasing decisions. For example, it finds 84 per cent of customers purchase clothing and footware on impulse, and details a variety of drivers for that behaviour. Other findings include:

  • 71% of consumers plan purchases ahead of sales periods.
  • 25% of retailers are increasing the frequency of sales compared with 12 months ago.
  • 59% of retailers agree their category is price sensitive.
  • 61% of shoppers said price is the main influence on their buying decisions.
  • 75% of shoppers said brands do not lose their allure by offering discounts too often.
  • 23% of shoppers preferred blanket discounts across the entire range; only 8 per cent of retailers viewed this as popular with their customers.

Twice as many shoppers (18 per cent) nominated free shipping as the most appealing discount, compared with 9 per cent of retailers.

The research examines how a brand (using the example of Darrell Lea chocolates) can harm its perceived value by lowering its price point, and undermine its attractiveness to consumers with preferences for premium brands.

It outlines strategies for using sales and discounting successfully to boost the long-term profitability of a business, and it contains some very revealing information about the approach of Australian retailers to discounting – with close to one third having no strategy for managing sales promotional activity.

I won’t go into all the details here, but I highly recommend you have a look at the report if you are able.

Many members are already in the process of completing staffing arrangements for the Christmas and New Year period. There are some complicated arrangements due to Christmas Day and New Year’s day both falling on the weekend. In some areas this means that public holidays are pushed out to the following Monday and Tuesday (in the case of Boxing Day). But the Sunday is still a public holiday in some states, with restrictions on trading hours and requirements for penalty rates.

It can be confusing, but your association is here to help. Give us a call on 1800 RETAIL for advice on your obligations around these dates. We can also help you know your rights and responsibilities around requiring staff to work on public holidays and throughout this period.

And finally, don’t forget the NRA’s free Roster Coster tool, which helps you build award-compliant rosters and maximise the efficiency of your staffing.