There are proposals afoot to include GST on purchases made from online overseas retailers. It may never happen, but even if it did, it's unlikely to change Aussie shopping habits, for one very simple reason.
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Mastercard today released survey research which it says shows that even if the GST were levied on imported goods -- something that seems unlikely to happen at least in the short term -- Australian consumers would remain keen on online spending. The research, which suggests that 12.6 million Australians have shopped online in the last 12 months, says that while 79 per cent of Australians oppose reductions to the current exemption levels, 38 per cent wouldn't actually change their buying habits if GST became a factor.
As with any surveyed research, it's wise to look at the wider numbers. The survey was conducted late last November, when consumers were more likely to be pro-purchasing in any case given the leadup to Christmas. Equally, the survey comprised 1250 Australians; while that's the practical reality of how many surveys work, it still leaves a potential margin of error.
Frankly, though, GST isn't the real reason why we shop online from overseas anyway. This is something we've covered before, but it bears repeating; the gap between local prices and those available from overseas so often exceeds 10 per cent that it isn't funny. GST might be a convenient complaint cry for local retailers, but it doesn't reflect the reality of price comparison in this day and age.