THE news that Myer is shedding permanent staff is clearly not a good thing if you have a full-time job there.
Being re-employed as one of the casuals that will give “flexibility to put more staff on during busy periods” is small consolation if you have a mortgage payment to meet each week.
We are all aware of the gradual decline of department stores worldwide.
Sydney when I was a boy had David Jones, Anthony Horderns, Mark Foys, Farmers, stores like Gowings for men, and at the top of Broadway was the Grace Bros emporium.
Saturday morning trains were crowded, because coming to the city was how everyone shopped for important items like clothing.
When I was transferred to the Riverina in 1966, a Saturday morning trip to Wagga meant a frenetic three hours of searching through fascinating places like Edmondsons, David Jones just around the corner, and Huthwaites.
Phones were still via manual exchanges in those days.
There was catalogue shopping, the ancient version of the internet, but phones were inconvenient, and the mail slow.
There was another revolution in the 1960s - everyone had access to a car, which for a while benefited large centres like Wagga and Albury.
Move forward to today, and internet shopping steals a large share of turnover, even for fitted items such as clothing.
Store staff know that some customers scan barcodes in the fitting room for later shopping online.
Some customers snap the barcode then check other branches of the same chain.
It must pay, because when the local branch of a prominent electronic chain didn’t have in stock the item we wanted, we checked the availability with the salesman, and bought the item from the same chain in Melbourne, saving $80 in the process!
Stores have reacted to barcode shoppers by stocking “house brands” which are available online only from that particular retailer.
This presents its own buyer resistance. Myer, for example, stocks men’s clothing house brands like “Blaq” and “Reserve”, which turns me away.
I don’t buy “homebrand” cheap groceries, either.
As an example, at the July sale the Reserve jumpers in Myer, with “Reserve by Ansett” on the tag, were thin, and made in China.
Until a few years ago the genuine Ansett jumpers were of the highest quality, and made in Australia.
I wandered around the corner to the Tarcutta Textiles woollen goods shop, paid only $20 more for a higher quality woollen jumper made nearby at Tarcutta.
As they say, “quality endures long after price is forgotten”.
I value Myer having a store in Wagga, and I will continue to shop there, provided that its “new” brands are quality brands at a reasonable price.
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