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Aussie retail shows signs of turnaround

News, 06 December 2016
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BRISBANE: Australians are flocking back to bricks-and-mortar retail stores in huge numbers as traditional retailers in the country enjoy a renaissance after five years of slumping sales, a new study has found.

A Roy Morgan Research report into the shopping habits of Australians has revealed that Australians aged 14+ made 90m more visits to bricks-and-mortar retail stores in the 2015-16 financial year compared to the year before that.

There were 1.43bn trips in total and department stores, hardware stores and clothing stores all saw solid increases in footfall.

While numbers remained lower than five years ago by 100m store visits, they indicated an offline retail sector showing signs of turnaround after a tough few years.

Only newsagents saw a continued drop in footfall, likely a reflection of the ongoing struggles of print publications in Australia, but the category still remained the second most visited after department stores. Meanwhile, visits to music stores were flat.

However, even as offline retail bounced back, the report found Australians also showed few signs of slowing down on their online shopping – a trend which many traditional retailers have embraced after a difficult transition period.

It attributed part of the growing willingness of consumers to visit physical stores to a "retailtainment trend", whereby stores work to improve the customer experience by providing an element of entertainment.

(For more details about online spending in Australia, read Warc's exclusive report: Four trends shaping e-commerce in Australia.)

The research also revealed that, over any given four weeks, 43% of Australians purchase an item online. Total online spend hit $41.3bn last financial year, almost 10% up on the 2014-15 financial year.

Commenting on the findings, Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research, said: "To survive in these changing times, retailers have had to develop a more omnichannel approach, so customers can choose how they shop with them: online, offline or a mixture of both.

"And they've been successful: just over a third of Australians' internet spending goes to the online channel of 'traditional' retailers (as opposed to online-only stores).

"Considering that traditional retailers' share of the online market was close to zero in 2010, this shows the progress they've made."

Data sourced from Roy Morgan Research; additional content by Warc staff

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