We know Gerry Harvey harbours an intense dislike of Australians going overseas for their purchases and the consensus from other bricks-and-mortar retailers has run along a similar vein. That’s until you look up Woolworths and its current CEO Grant O’Brien — O’Brien is more than happy to tell Harvey exactly where he can put his demands for government intervention.
O’Brien recently took a stab at the likes of Harvey Norman and David Jones at the Australian Chamber of Commerce. According to ZDNet, O’Brien called requests from traditional retailers for additional taxes or application of the GST on overseas purchases as “nonsense”. Said O’Brien:
Much of the conversation has focused on the question of the GST threshold on imported goods. Yet, the savings available to consumers on many products can far outweigh the current GST threshold, making this point irrelevant.
He believes retailers need to drop their prices and win back consumer trust; as online shopping becomes more prevalent, it’s becoming clearer to the masses just how much extra we’re paying compared to the US (and usually from a smaller range). Then, of course, there’s the issue of poor customer service, which, from what I’ve seen, is a fairly consistent complaint among Lifehacker readers.
You won’t get an argument from me that retail stores should be looking to cut their prices if they want to compete, yet, I can’t help but feel Woolworths is in a much better position than the likes of Harvey Norman or David Jones. For one, I don’t see anyone buying fresh foods from the US (or elsewhere) any time soon.