6 February 2009

Where and why: Major retaillers

| creative_canberran
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Where do you shop in Canberra and why?

As the economy heads for tougher times ahead, there is much talk around Canberra about the unsustainable number of major retailers competing for our business in a relatively small market.

Some say that we’ll see some well known stores close, others merge and significant change overall in the local retail landscape.

Where we shop and why we choose certain places over others will be a clue to the future.

Do you always go to the bargain retaillers, Good Guys, Bing Lee, etc first?

Harvey Norman vs Domayne… which do you like?

Is there really a difference?

Can upmarket retailers like David Jones compete with bargain electronics stores?

Do they need to?

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Agree with Miz – Good Guys at Tuggers are fantastic and I have found them to be superior to their own store at Fyshwick, Harvey’s, David Jones and Myer in terms of service, price-matching, delivery and general helpfulness. Just yesterday I went in there to get a new printer and the young fellow spent quite a lot of time discussing my exact needs – when he realised that their store didn’t have the model that I (urgently) needed, he actually wrote down the best model for me and sent me off to Officeworks (who were also really helpful). Although he lost my sale yesterday, I will continue to buy future electronic purchases from that store as a gesture of good will.

In this economy, am trying to buy local as much as possible too – local fruit shop, butcher, chemist, newsagent etc… Aldi is just fantastic for non-perishables/basics and contrary to popular belief, quite a LOT of their products are made in Australia. I used to love shopping at DJs and Myers, but frankly the level of service (scant staff, and because they are so scant, they always seem extra busy and cranky) does not inspire me to shop there any more. Honestly – I had to wander around the store the other day looking for a checkout that was actually staffed and when I found one, there was a long line of waiting customers. No thanks.

I try to shop as locally as possible. I support my local butcher, fruit and veg shop, takeaway chippie (though I occasionally go to Livingstones at Wanniassa (Sangster place shops) if it’s en route, they are AWESOME) and newsagent, and get my milk delivered by Canberra Milk.

While we go to Woden Plaza occasionally, we mostly get everything else we can’t get at the local, at Tuggers centre (eg hardware, clothes, picture framing etc).

Good Guys Tuggers are great – Mr Rudd’s last stimulus handout provided us with a new microwave, replacing the 12 year old one, and a clothes dryer, replacing the cactus one. Excellent service and a good discount.

I haven’t found it worthwhile to travel all the way to the factory outlets for their dubious bargains. Harvey Norman is annoying – if you return something, you can only use the refund in that area (eg a refund from electrical can’t be used in furniture).

Deckard said :

What I get annoyed with is when you’re trying to buy something in Myer and there’s not a checkout person to be seen. Usually in the mens wear dept.

I’ve been tempted to walk out with a pair of pants as there was no one there to take my money.

myer are renouned for their poor service, not much has changed with the new owners either.

Personally it pays to do some good research on most things you buy and try and price match.

Domayne is overpriced Harvey Norman’s sister, it wouldn’t surprise me if they shut the one at Fyshwick, there’s never anybody in it and Gerry is looking at closing stores that exist in close proximity to HN. HN do have some good sales at times.

Myer and David Jones I generally only buy work clothes and formal shoes, most electical/computer equipment there are extremely overpriced or old models that are still overpriced, though I noticed Myer has improved since ditching Coles.

The Good guys can do you some good deals and Dick Smiths have generally low prices, bit you can normally beat that by going to Big W for some things.

As for clothes from discounters, I buy things that are styled the way I like. Target is pretty good (Civic is much better than Tuggers) and the mens clothes from Big W are generally pretty rubbishy these days, they used to be really good. Socks and underwear they are good as anything.

Discounters Go-lo etc are good for a lot of things where you just want something to use, also good for things like greeting cards or paper, pay $1 instead of $6 when it’s just going to get ripped in about 30 seconds anyway.

What I get annoyed with is when you’re trying to buy something in Myer and there’s not a checkout person to be seen. Usually in the mens wear dept.

I’ve been tempted to walk out with a pair of pants as there was no one there to take my money.

mariah scarey9:30 am 07 Feb 09

Harvey Norman and Domain are owned by the same people and are mostly the same products – just aimed at different demographics. I think Gerry’s wife handles the aesthetics et al.

Good guys have never given me a decent bargain. Last time I was there I went in looking for a decent price on an LCD panel (after researching online at dtvforum.info) and was told outright that the price I wanted wasn’t going to happen and if I could find it anywhere then to take it as it was less than wholesale. I knew this not to be true, walked out and in to Myers where they easily agreed to the price. Surprised really but Myers in Tuggeranong price match on electronics readily enough. I ended up buying a new canon camera through them as well. No fuss at all. By the way – Harvey Norman in Fyshwick agreed to the price of the LCD panel. Good guys ? Wont be back.

I’ve been using eBay as my first shopping point for a decade or so. Quite rare to pay full retail for items these days.

hk0reduck said :

I don’t really understand the point of presenting yourself as a high-class retailer if you’re not going to make me leave feeling like a king.

I get the feeling that some of the so-called high-end retailers are just there to make the sales staff feel better, not the customer.

As an average Australian (average age, marriage, kids, car, salary, etc) I am time poor so I tend to go to the shop that can serve me quickest. I hate sales staff that don’t know what they are talking about of use a huge load of sales speak. Yesterday I went to a reputable camera shop and the best they could do was talk about mega pixels, and wide-angle. nothing about picture quality, independent testing or face recognition which I would expect from a good retailer. So my time was wasted. sorry about that rant but it just shits me.

Aldi’s Gungahlin for speed & shaded parking. I went to magnet mart for some wood once and the sales guy just about built my project for me at half the price I was expecting to pay. I also like those self-checkout things in Big-W.

Groceries at Aldi (packaged goods and some fruit) and Alpha Fresh Foods (fruit/meat). They have the lowest prices and generally good quality.

Casualwear at Target – lasts a while and is reasonably stylish.

Work wear and shoes at David Jones, they have a good range of brands and good specials at times.

“Big” purchases generally at wherever we can get the best price. We do our own research and hence don’t give a rats about whether service is good or not. However, we’ve noticed that the Good Guys tend only to have cheaper brands, and that Bing Lee can only give discounts for cash because their sticker prices are high to begin with.

creative_canberran9:52 pm 06 Feb 09

tylersmayhem said :

These stinks of a marketing company using RA to gather data for free. If this is the case, please be upfront about it – then on yur bike!

Not the case. Just someone interested in why people choose certain retailers over others. Price alone can’t be the reason or David Jones, Domayne and Myer who don’t discount as aggressively would have gone bust. I know that I’ll pay more for decent service, and that I avoid cheap computer fairs and online grey market stores. I know that Domayne is just Harvey Norman in drag and Dick Smith (despite their claims) is neither cheap nor a place for expert advice. That’s my reasoning, just interested in other people’s.

Felix the Cat9:45 pm 06 Feb 09

I mostly go to Belconnen Mall for most of my “shopping”, and mostly at K-mart. I find they have a much better range than Target, shop assistants are pretty average in both stores so you’ve got to know what you want and where it is as the kids don’t (and don’t care).

Sometimes I browse at Rebel Sport but find they are too pricey for most stuff.

Last time I went to Harvey Norman I could get no sales assistant to help me when I was in the market for a GPS unit so I walked out went to Dick Smith and found a really helpful and knowledgeable no BS young man sales assistant who answered all my questions (and some I didn’t ask!), so I spent my $400 there.

I also go to Reject Shop quite regularly but again you pretty much need to know what it is you want and not rely on staff to help too much.

I hate going to Civic for shopping, especially the new bit of the Canberra Centre. Civic is hard to find a parking spot and when you do it’s as expensive as hell and/or a 2 mile walk from the shops you want to visit. Belconnen Mall is free and 99% of the time you can park undercover.

I do a fair bit of shopping online, usually a lot cheaper and better range of stuff + I don’t have to worry about parking and 11ty billion other shoppers with screaming snotty nosed brats in tow.

I despise Tarocash!

Actually not just Tarocash, but many of the ‘trendy’ clothing retailers… it’s tiny change rooms with no mirrors, so you’re forced to go and stand in front of the massive mirror on the back wall. At which point, you are at the mercy of the teenybopper sales assistant who’ll bound up to and tell you it looks fantastic when you know damn well you look like crap in it… And when you say that you don’t like it, they then want you to explain WHY you don’t like it… Gimme a break, it’s a t-shirt, I didn’t come here to be psychoanalysed, and I don’t feel the need to explain my taste in fashion to a 17 year old girl who’s wearing about 3kgs of makeup and has overlooked applying the fake tan to the backs of her knees.

All I really want when clothes shopping is to be left alone (unless I ask for assistance), and decent sized fitting rooms (with mirrors). Is that really too much to ask???

Actually I’m curious to know if anybody else feels this way about Tarocash/et al…

I try not to buy too much in Canberra. It’s all shit and it’s all the same. Buy a shirt and the next day you’re wearing it, so are 300,000 other people. I prefer to get stuff from Ebay, alot of it from the UK & USA, or I’ll go to Sydney. At least then I know my stuff is pretty much unique to these parts.
I bought my plasma TV from Ebay, got it cheaper than anywhere in Canberra and that’s including shipping.

luther_bendross4:54 pm 06 Feb 09

Agree with tyler @ #11. creative_canberran, me thinks you are some sort of market/fair organiser. This reeks of tightarsed market research.

bailes23 said :

The service at the good guys and HN was disgraceful.

Just thought I would mention this was the good guys in Fhyswick. Sounds like the Tuggeranong store is much better.

Good Guys Tuggers for me – I think I’ve spent a small fortune in there over the last few years. The guys in the Home entertainment/PC/ section know their stuff and are happy to take time discussing equipment and ready with a good deal without any high pressure sales shit – contrast that with the last time I bought from Harvey Norman – gotta be 6 years ago now.

Fashion = DJs. Without a question. They astonishingly without fail manage to have nicer clothes in individual brands than the brands do in their own stores.

Electrical = Tuggeranong Good Guys. Locally owned and cheap etc plus I worked there when it first opened and it was great.

Furniture = all the same/pretty rubbish, and independent stores expensive. I look for big sales anywhere or try and come up with a way to recycle or make my own.

I agreee with tylersmayhem though – is this market research or some sort of school/uni assignment work?

DJs has changed a *lot* in the years since I’d last bought anything from them, getting them to price match was like pulling teeth, and they had a small list of Canberra retailers they’d bother matching with, and only then if the competitor had it in stock.

Gungahlin Al2:48 pm 06 Feb 09

I was out at brand depot last weekend and when Mrs. nifty and I walked in I think we doubled the number of shoppers in the building. Seems DFO just needs to sit tight and wait for Mr. Snow to give in.

Experienced this too.

And three or four empty office buildings out there with not a tenant in sight, the organic produce joint “opening soon” for the last six months, plus the terminal (actual airport facilities!) put on the never never.

Seems suddenly everything the airport touches turns to mud. Is this why Tom bailed late last year? Saw the writing on the wall?

Last year I got married and decided to buy a new fridge, washer and tv. The service at the good guys and HN was disgraceful. No one would take us seriously (young couple in plain weekend clothes).
We decided to have a look at David Jones and were suprised at the level of service. Straight away the staff advised they will happily price match other stores, advised us to have a look around, bring back the model numbers and the prices and they will sort it out.
It was probably the best retail service I’ve ever had.

To top it of, there was another couple buying the same tv when we were there. We showed DJs the price we wanted and they offered it to the other couple also. This was $800 off the price they were ready to pay (they were at the counter with credit card inhand)

fnaah said :

The best service I ever got at Myers…

You should have asked if they’d price match AND give you the free brush! You might have been surprised by their answer.

Food chain as in being a larger harvest of cash for the retailer?

I rarely buy my clothing from Target, if I do its usually the much marked down end of season remnants. Same with the other places I buy my clothes from, Big W and K-Mart, and there are usually lots of people doing the same. What do you base the claim “most people buy their clothes from Target” on?

so if you buy any upmarket brand you’re already up the food chain

Wait, paying $50 for $1 worth of textile, $5 of advertising and .30c of child labour makes you somehow more advanced than the average homo sapien? You may have that a bit mixed up.

Lady_from_Holt12:18 pm 06 Feb 09

DFO DFO DFO. Canberra is both a year behind in the fashion and most people buy their clothes from Target or during the Christmas sales so if you buy any upmarket brand you’re already up the food chain. Love it. If I could go there every day I would, but my mortgage went up and I fixed my loan, which is probably why the economy crashed because I wasn’t spending any more.

tylersmayhem10:52 am 06 Feb 09

These stinks of a marketing company using RA to gather data for free. If this is the case, please be upfront about it – then on yur bike!

Oh yeah. Computer purchases are strictly the realm of online (AusPcMarket) or if I need an immediate fix the Computer Fairs.


The best service I ever got at Myers was just before Christmas – I found a hair straightener that the missus was after, and when I brought it to the counter to pay for it, the clerk said “oh, that comes with a free brush, I’ll just go out the back and get it”. Then, another clerk (who had seen me put the item on the desk) leaned over and whispered “quick mate, the shaver shop just around the corner has those for $30 less. Go now, run.”

I thanked him and ran.

In my experience David Jones outstrips the lot. I’ve done several great deals with them over the years.

It’s not always about the money either – why drive around town and get crap service from clueless staff whilst being rushed into a sale just to save a few bucks? A chick in Domain just out and out lied to me a few months back and I gave her both barrels. A dude in JB was 3 seconds away from having a niftyfist in the stomach he was being such a cock – and since JB has gotten really big the CD range has shrunk dramatically and the prices have crept up.

Plus those incessant Hardly Normal adds are insanely annoying and their tactics are insulting to your intelligence.

“Once a year four day sale! This weekend only!”

Uh huh.

I was out at brand depot last weekend and when Mrs. nifty and I walked in I think we doubled the number of shoppers in the building. Seems DFO just needs to sit tight and wait for Mr. Snow to give in.

Over the past 10-15 years a new trend has occured – trading-up and trading-down. This is why shops such as Target, the two dollar shop and The Warehouse have propered – as well as David Jones and other higher end retailers. Previously many people would never be seen dead in Target. Now it’s ok to get your batteries, stationery, underwaer there. And then you are free to spend your saved money on more expensive clothing and electrical items at the other end of the market. This is one of the big reasons why Meyer has struggled over the last ten years – the middle of the road shop is a dying breed.

Having said that I am always keen to sniff out a bargian – online, in a mall or in a small shop.

Yep, Domayne is Gerry’s wife’s business. She’s considered one of the most influential businesswomen in Australia, and nobody really knows much about her (I can’t even remember her name).

When I go shopping, it’s about the shopping experience and the product story more than the prices. I’d rather go without a product than buy a cheaper version that I’m not so happy with.

I go hugely out of my way to avoid malls, except last week when I wanted to be in air conditioned space (we don’t have air con at home). I like small shops where I can park right outside the door, and the people working there know who I am and what I like. I find there’s not that much money to be saved by going to major retailers, and their efforts to maximise the Gruen transfer means I impulse buy and waste whatever I might have saved. I also love handmade and craft markets, and do a lot of online shopping with home-based small businesses who value ALL their customers (not just the big spenders).

Something I’ve noticed in my recent hunt for the right commercial space for my own business is how overpriced most of the vacant retail space is around Canberra. Landlords seem happy to let a shop sit vacant for years because they want a high price and multi-year lease, rather than lease it to a start-up at a reduced price or shorter lease.

Oh yeah. Computer purchases are strictly the realm of online (AusPcMarket) or if I need an immediate fix the Computer Fairs.

I would never, ever, ever buy myself a desktop computer from Harvey Norman or its ilk.

The vast majority of my shopping revolves around Revolution CD, JB HiFi, Borders, and various Supermarkets.

Harvey Norman vs Domayne… which do you like?

Neither. Wouldn’t even consider either of those stores for *any* kind of electrical or computer purchase. I might wander in there to *look* at furniture for ideas, but wouldn’t buy from there.

I thought Domayne was owned by Gerry Harvey’s wife?

I like shopping for electrical appliances at The Good Guys because they seem to have a really good range and because their staff seem to be on commission and they usually seem keen to assist.

I went to K-Mart, Target & David Jones in search of an egg-cooker (an essential kitchen appliance!) and none of the staff had ever even heard of them.

I also went to David Jones to purchase a higher-end Rice Cooker (an essential kitchen appliance!) but received some pretty terrible customer service. I don’t really understand the point of presenting yourself as a high-class retailer if you’re not going to make me leave feeling like a king.

Harvey Norman and Domayne are both owned by Gerry Harvey.

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