Retailers are struggling, so do we buy online?

retailers are struggelingFigures released last showed the worst retail growth in fifty years as consumers deserted shops again in the end of financial year sales.

The 1.6 per cent annual rise in spending is the worst result since 1961-62 - an era when there were no credit cards and shoppers used pounds, shillings and pence.

The Bureau of Statistics revealed sales for the normally strong month of June had fallen by 0.1 per cent, following an 0.6 per cent drop in May.

Here's my take...

From personal experience, as a busy business woman and someone who does not love pounding the pavements looking for bargains or even an outfit to wear to my cousins wedding - buying has become too confusing.

I am a loyal brand follower. In my teenage years, I wore Country Road and Jag, then I went onto Cue and bits and pieces of high end designer brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Then, when I started making real money, I went onto Giorgio Armani, with whom I have stayed loyal ever since. The reason for this undying loyalty is to do with service and convenience. I go in and buy 3 or 4 things at once, all in 15 minutes and they wrap it up and have it delivered to my office or home. Otherwise, I find something I like, ring them up and they have it delivered. Easy. Convenient. Good quality 100% of the time. Timeless.

At some stage, my close friends thought that I had become a tad boring in the clothing department. I wasn't as interested in fashion and looking good as they were, and my over the top loyalty to one brand meant that I was largely the most conservative person in the room always.

It was time to mix it up. So, I started buying Collette Dinnigan and they were equally as nice as the unbelievable team at Giorgio Armani, albeit on a different level. I also bought a few brands like Ted Baker and Max Mara, particularly when I travelled overseas.

Collette Dinnigan closed their store in Melbourne, but in truth, they had lost me a long time before that. The service wasn't as good and their clothes were either too similar to what I already had in my wardrobe or were just not my particular style.

I have also bought quite a bit from Scanlan, but the problem with this brand and my circle of friends is that you cannot be sure someone else won't turn up at the same birthday party in exactly the same outfit. It happened 3 times in a row - so that was it from me. Their clothes are great, but the circle is too small.

A girlfriend introduced me to Little Joe, and I learned to love this brand for casual clothing with a bit of style. The problem was that some of their stuff had fallen apart and that concerned me. I had bought more than $5000 worth of clothes there in a short period of time. On top of that, I once went to the store at exactly 5pm, which was closing time, and the girl in the store said "sorry, we are closed". I know she obviously had something better to do, but I am sure with an attitude like this, the downturn in sales was evident. Needless to say, they closed their store in Melbourne.

Now, I just buy overseas when I travel which is monthly or bi-monthly. No GST, cheaper, more variety and it is now part of the overseas travelling experience. The problem is that I feel a tad guilty. Here we have great retail shops, with people trying to make a living selling great clothing, and yet, we are buying online or overseas.

How would I like it if my clients decided to get all of their marketing done overseas? Would my business survive? I suppose not.

So, where do we draw the line in the sand? Should we support local retailers in lieu of a less expensive alternative for the same product overseas?

Today, I am going to go out and buy some local designer clothes. An English friend of mine was at a week long event in France with me recently and she looked stunning every day. I don't think there was a woman in the room that wasn't at least a tad jealous of her wardrobe. After inquiring, it was ascertained that all of her clothes were from an Australian fashion designer, Sass and Bide. After picking up Harpers Bazaar yesterday, and seeing some great outfits from this designer and Ellery, I am going out to buy a few outfits for my next trip in a couple of weeks. I think for now, supporting people's jobs is more important than the price we pay. It may mean we buy less, but we are at the very least supporting our local economy.