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Online shops threaten retail

Sophia ConstantineNorth West Telegraph

Hedland residents are being urged to shop local and break away from their online shopping habits, as local businesses say they are struggling to stay on their feet.

Australia Post data revealed a 2.3 per cent growth in the category of men’s fashion, 46 per cent growth in pet products, and 12.2 per cent increase in department store items.

The findings were recorded in December last year and are in comparison to the statistics from the previous year.

Just Jeans South Hedland manager Sarah Harris said online shopping had taken a “huge toll” on the business.

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“Although people can buy online from Just Jeans, it affects our sales because it does not go directly into our budget,” she said.

Ms Harris said the significant loss in sales affected store hours.

She flagged rental costs had been behind some retailers’ decisions to close their South Hedland stores.

Stingaz South Hedland manager Danielle Walker said the current market and high rent prices in the area were the main factors that affected the business.

“Online businesses can undercut us pretty easily,” she said. “They can order in higher volumes, whereas we cannot.

“Our business is too small to go online, we are very quiet at the moment, especially after Christmas.”

Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce president Jim Henneberry said it was important to shop local because it allowed local businesses to flourish and serve the community.

Mr Henneberry said online shopping in Port Hedland was “artificially inflated” because of the thousands of people living on FIFO camps.

He said people opted to shop online because they had a wider variety to choose from, and a “significant” price differential.

Mr Henneberry said it was difficult for retailers to keep their costs down until they could directly import goods to Port Hedland.

“Support local businesses, we all depend on each other,” he said.

Australia Post ecommerce general manager Ben Franzi said price, range, and convenience were the main drivers of online shopping.

“Online shopping gives people access to retailers all over the world,” he said.

“This, and the convenience to shop at times that suits them, is what’s helping to drive the growth.”

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