As more Australian consumer opt to shop from online stores than bricks-and-mortar outlets, the federal government decided to monitor the sector in a bid to understand better the behaviour of shoppers amid the slump in the country's retail industry.
To better understand the industry, Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury announced on Friday that it allocated $2.1 million for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to track online consumer habits, both domestic and overseas spending activities. The study would include multichannel retailers or those that both have cyber presence and physical stores.
Mr Bradbury said study would help Australian retailers, both online and traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, to expand and innovate. Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman hailed the venture as a positive step.
With the project, online sales would have its own category in ABS's monthly retail trade report instead of being lumped under the category other retailing.
"Online is now an integral and normal part of business operations for most retailers, so it's only natural they want to benchmark themselves and gain further insight into online sales as they grow this part of their business further," Ninesman quoted Mr Zimmerman.
Although a Productivity Commission report in 2010 estimated that online sales account for only 6 per cent of total retail spending, the sector continues to grow rapidly while traditional bricks-and-mortar stores report decline in sales despite deep discounts offered.
The consumer shift to ecommerce led the Australian Post Office to open 24/7 outlets in different parts of the country where shoppers could pick up anytime they are free the parcels they ordered online.
However, Australian National Retailers Association Chief Executive Margy Osmond said there is future for both world of retailing.
"The future of the retail industry is in omnichannel retailing. To gain a precise picture of what is happening in the sector, you need to examine retail activity both instore and online," The Australian quoted Ms Osmond.
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