Caloundra’s Jessica Siles loves on line shopping and does it regularly.
Caloundra’s Jessica Siles loves on line shopping and does it regularly. Nicholas Falconer

E-retail therapy mouse click away

FOR 21st Century shoppers like Jessica Siles, a new outfit or book is just a mouse click away.

Which is why they are being targeted by some of Australia's biggest businesses keen to force them back into the more traditional style of retail therapy.

For time-starved 22-year-old Jessica, the ease of e-retail and its competitive pricing makes it irresistible .

“I prefer online shopping because it's cheaper … you can get books really cheap online, sometimes they're less than half price,” the Currimundi social worker said.

“It's really easy, you can do it from the comfort of home, you can do it in your pyjamas and you don't have to fight for a park.

“I even do the grocery shopping online sometimes.”

But as much as she loves shopping from home, Ms Siles admits that sometimes nothing beats a good old-fashioned trip to the shops.

“Sometimes it's good to be able to try things on and shop assistants can tell you something about what you're buying.”

Online shopping was thrust into the national spotlight last week when a coalition of leading retailers launched a widely-criticised advertising campaign calling on the government to impose GST and import duties on purchases made from overseas websites.

There is currently no GST imposed on such purchases less than $1000.

The coalition, which includes high-profile retailers Harvey Norman, Target, David Jones and Myer, argued the current GST threshold put Australian retailers at a disadvantage and threatened jobs.

Billionaire retailer Gerry Harvey later appeared to step back from the campaign after being stunned by an avalanche of criticism directed at him on social media sites.

A rival retail group later said the campaign had backfired.

The Fair Imports Alliance said retailers involved in the GST push had acted irresponsibly and should be engaging with a Productivity Commission inquiry into the local sector impact of globalisation.

Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Federal Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, said the GST threshold's impact on Australian retail had been exaggerated.

“Online retail sales account for about 3% of all retail sales in Australia, and it is estimated that between 20% to half of these sales relate to overseas purchases,” he said.

“There is no denying that retailers are doing it tough, but other factors like the high Aussie dollar, the ongoing aftershocks of the GFC and the fact that Australians are simply spending less this Christmas are having a much greater impact than the absence of a 10% GST on a small number of overseas imports.”

On the Sunshine Coast, Alterior Motif owner Penny Lane said online retail had not stopped people from shopping in her Cotton Tree and Noosa stores.

Rosetta Books owner Rosetta Brown also said her Maleny store had been unaffected.

“I'm not sure that it affects me too much as opposed to bigger retailers,” Ms Brown said.

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