Nov 23, 2017

Amazon isn’t the only predator in the retail jungle

The arrival of Amazon is only the latest threat to retailing, which has been enduring structural change in the economy now for years.

Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer

Politics editor / Crikey business and media commentator

Amazon jobs in Australia

Some future economic historian, or at least an honours student, will presumably write about what happened to Australian retailing between 2000 and, say, 2025, and chart how a lazy industry that exploited its customers' distance from, and ignorance of, other markets to gouge them was brought down by globalisation. The arrival of Amazon -- said to open today -- will be a key milestone. But it's only part of a much longer-term story that's about more than the internet.

Australian retailing was for a time around 2009-10 Australia's biggest employer, and still remains the second-biggest, with around 1.2 million full-time and part-time jobs. In recent years, however, it has been infected by a nasty mix of intensifying competition, technological change, weak consumer spending and the shift of spending away from retailing and managerial incompetence. 

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4 thoughts on “Amazon isn’t the only predator in the retail jungle

  1. Draco Houston

    Is there anything more insane than a conflict between what is good for employees and consumers? Meanwhile, the investors in these companies roll on just fine.

    1. AR

      An age old tactic, divide & rule. Consumers are employees are consumers as that great humanitarian, and all round good guy, Henry Ford twigged.
      Meanwhile we race to the bottom, only keeping our heads above the slurry coz we’re standing on the heads of others less ‘competitive’.

  2. klewso

    Now Woolies is blackmailing those companies that might be thinking of supplying this new competition – “do that and lose Woolies” (The Business tonight)?

  3. rumtytum

    I keep reading about lower prices but perhaps because I don’t buy a lot of consumer durables I can’t see that life has got less expensive. Meat has doubled in price in recent years and so have vegetables. Seafood prices have soared as Asian customers who can pay the price of a small car for a small abalone divert our crayfish, prawns and oysters to their own markets. Doyles at the Sydney Fish Market are selling oysters for $40 a dozen. $40! And at another outlet live “lobster” from the tank is $180 a kilo. I haven’t bought a TV set, a home computer, a rice cooker or a frig that sends emails recently and to me the cost of living has rocketed up.

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