Life’s a Bitch for Gerry Harvey

6 January 2011

Retailers in Oz are feeling the pinch, apparently.  And why is this?  They’re laying the blame squarely at the feet of we financial and computer-savvy people who buy goods from overseas because we don’t have to pay GST on purchases under $1000.  So I buy 4 books from the USA for $108 plus postage.  Without this facility I would have had to pay well over $200 from an Australian supplier.  Asking me to pay a 10% tax on the import wouldn’t have deterred me in any way as I’m perfectly capable of calculating that I would still be a lot better off.  As someone pointed out in the paper today, when a particular TV costs $400 in the USA and $1000 in Oz, the GST doesn’t really enter into it. 

Adding GST won’t benefit the retailers – just the Government.  But I’m not even sure about that as the cost of collecting it would be enormous.

We’re just doing what the retailers have been doing for ages – sourcing goods from the cheapest possible place.  They have had no qualms about putting Australian companies (small retailers and manufacturers) out of business while they imported vast quantities from China but now we can all do this, they’re squawking. 

I’ve no idea what some of these companies feel is a reasonable mark up but, as a friend of mine pointed out, a magazine with a cover price of US$6.99 is being sold here with a cover price of AU$20.95 – and the AU$ is at parity with the US$.   One of the big names behind this campaign, Harvey Norman, last declared a profit of $232 million, an increase of 8% on the previous year, and their profit for the last quarter declared (September 2010) was $77.7 million.  Gerry Harvey himself declared an income of $738,000.  Forgive us if we’re not able to give him the commiseration he feels is his due.

I would advise anyone who would prefer to buy from a bricks and mortar shop locally to haggle.  We recently bought a new television and David told the salesman what price he had found on the internet – so they immediately reduced the price by that amount.  He also haggles with credit card companies and had the interest on one card reduced by HALF – he still threw the card away incidentally but it did show that most costs are negotiable. 

Happy Shopping!  



  1. Ahhh, but I read a comment where someone pointed out that the whole “I’d happy pay the 10% GST since I’m already saving more than that” is a red herring. Right now, if you import something *over* the threshold, you get slugged with an additional $50 fee just for customs processing. There’s also a heap of paperwork and red tape involved.

    So it’s not that these big rich retailers really want us to pay the extra 10% to “make things fair.” They want to make online shopping too expensive and complicated for it to be worth our while anymore.

    And yeah, it sucks.

  2. I think there’s another side to this too – if I can only get something online – BBC comedy programmes on CD for example – and there is no way I can get them here, I don’t feel that I have any responsibility to source them locally by asking my local retailer to order them in. I know that the service I will get via an online store is going to be faster and better. If I want something that is different or one off then online is the perfect vehicle for it – luscious single dye lot skeins for example. What the Harvey Normans and other bricks and mortar shops need to work out is – what’s their point of difference? Brilliant service? Convenience? Immediate gratification? They won’t win if they focus on price. If they offered Australian products, or sales staff who actually understood what I needed and helped me – then I’d be happier to go there.

  3. I’m not sure what this about, but have got the gist of it – I think…

    Things are very hard in the UK at the moment and HMV have just announced that they are closing 600 stores, mainly because people aren’t buying CDs, etc, anymore but are downloading them for a lot less money. Voting with their wallets, as do those in Australia who opt to import their purchases.

    We just had a rise of 14% (to 20%) in VAT (sales tax) which applies to virtually everything except basic foodstuffs and books/newspapers. BUT this has come at a time when the tax on fuel has been raised so we are now paying £1.30 a litre (A$1.90) which will be passed on to the price we pay for goods as the cost of transportation will rise.

    I’m so angry that those who caused much of this – the banking community – are still picking up massive bonuses, even in those banks which were bailed out by UK taxpayers.

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