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Trying it on: It's called showrooming, and retailers HATE it


By Fair Go presenter Gordon Harcourt

Published: 12:19PM Wednesday July 30, 2014

If you're under 25 you've probably done it heaps and don't have a problem with it.

If you're over 45 you've almost certainly not done it, and think it's really unfair.

It's showrooming - trying stuff on in a shop then buying it cheaper online.

Retailers absolutely hate it, and who can blame them? Their shops have become expensive fitting rooms for people have absolutely no intention of buying from them.

Sandra Kitto runs Shoe Biz in Gore. She emailed Fair Go saying she had a mum come into her shop wanting to change some shoes - her daughter bought the wrong size. Not from Sandra's shop, but on the internet. When told no sorry we won't change those this shameless mum got abusive.

OK retailers have to get real. They have to cut margins, be better and smarter. But overseas online retailers have a 15% head start - no GST. It's not fair, and it absolutely infuriates the retailers I've spoken to. Adding insult to injury the government is doing a very good impression of doing nothing.

There was an online GST working group. It was supposed to produce a discussion paper early this year. Nothing happened. The working group was "merged" into a wider tax working group.

Meanwhile Kiwi retailers are going under - Wellington indie bookshop Capital Books gave up just this week. Owner Tim Skinner told the Dominion Post it's tough to compete with people taking pictures of their books so they can buy them online.

Now this is brain-achingly hard stuff to do, because NZ has no right to levy tax on companies that aren't NZ companies. Revenue Minister Todd McClay has a good point - don't spend $2 to collect $1 in tax. But this stuff is killing jobs, and costing serious money in lost revenue.

We say try a little harder Mr McClay.

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