RetailBiz Round Up for Friday 24 January 2014 – with Andrew Jackson

Today's ASX results are here

Back to School fever is upon us, and this year Aussie parents are being hit hard, according to a new survey conducted by

More parents are spending big dollars on back to school shopping in 2014, with 32 percent spending more than $400 per child, compared with 28 per cent spending the same amount per child in 2013. This year, those polled indicated that the biggest cost in the back to school season are school fees, followed by shoes, books and uniforms.

Clothing costs are still considered relatively high, though lower than last year, with 66 per cent of parents ranking uniforms and 29 per cent ranking shoes in the top two costs of 2013, compared to 47 per cent for uniforms (moving to fourth place this year) and 24 per cent for shoes this year.

However, the rising cost for sending a child back to school was particularly elevated this year due to the  increasing use of technology in the classroom. The survey indicated that a quarter of parents have spent more than $500 on technology for their children this year, making technology the fifth most expensive back to school item in 2014 (up from seventh in 2013). Nearly one-third of those surveyed also indicated they purchased a tablet this year for school purposes (31 per cent).

Top Most Expensive Back To School Items:

And, as usual, it’s Mum that gets hit with the stress of Back to School shopping, with 97 per cent saying that the mother of the family was solely responsible for getting their kids fitted out and ready to learn. Four out of five parents find back to school shopping expensive, stressful and a chore, and frugal parents are recycling more to make ends meet.

This stress, along with rising costs, have driven many Australian mums to the world of online shopping as over half of those surveyed did a portion or all of their back-to-school shopping on their computers. Mumgo general manager Guy Polak says the message is loud and clear:

“The poll undertaken by Mumgo has provided an open line to Australian mums who are telling us back to school is expensive, stressful, and a chore. And they’ve indicated that back to school shopping is getting more expensive every year with an increase of 5% on last year," Polak stated.

“It’s clear that today’s time poor, stressed mums are looking for amazing value and the convenience of online when it comes to shopping for their family, rather than spending time marching the kids through shopping malls to face an overwhelming array of choices.”

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Supermarket chain IGA has one last gift to give this holiday season as they will be donating all the proceeds from their current charity auction to the St Vincent de Paul Society. IGA has taken to Ebay to sell a one of a kind Vespa scooter and sidecar combo, used in their 2013 Christmas advertising campaign. 

The scooter, ridden by Australian comedian Ahn Do during the campaign, went up for auction yesterday and bidding will close on Sunday 2 February 2014. Though branded with the IGA logo, bidders are assured that it can easily be removed from the bright red pocket rocket, turning the vehicle into a one-of-a-kind collectors item.

As of writing, the highest bid for this retro Vespa/sidecar combo is $7,000. If you want to score yourself a new ride while helping in people in need, follow the link to the auction

The Reject Shop has reported half yearly saled for the six months to 31 December 2013 of $385.5 million, up 17.7 per cent on the previous corresponding period. Net profit after tax is expected to be between $17-$18 million.

Comparable sales, however, were flat, with the growth in sales due to 33 new store opening during the period rather than a strong sales lift across the board.

"We remain conscious of the requirement to improve our operating returns, after significant periods of investing in stores and infrastructure for the future," said managing director Chris Bryce.

"Or strategic approach to our store portfolio remains paramount to ensure we oeprate in longterm viable locations."

The market did not respond well to The Reject Shop's announcement: it's share price declined by 33 per cent to $11.59.

Fujitsu is set to release a new point of sale (POS) software package to retailers later this year. Called Fujitsu Market Place, it is being billed as an omni-channel POS application which has the ability to increase retailer revenues by improving both customer service and enterprise efficiency, while lowering IT costs.  

According to the official press release, “Fujitsu Market Place breaks down the barrier between orders and in-store shopping by combining both in a single transaction.For the customer, this delivers uniform pricing, promotion and customer-relationship experiences whether online, in-store or using a mobile device.”

“It also allows the sales associate to transact business with the customer through a single application rather than switching between PoS and online order fulfillment, making the operation quicker, easier to learn and more likely to be accurate.And for the retailer, it provides increased profitability through a reduction of ‘dropped baskets’.”

Fujitsu Market Place is also geared for efficiency and risk minimisation, as it will work across an entire enterprise and has the ability to be deployed on a very wide range of systems and setups. Retailers are able to deliver value-adding changes, such as installing new mobile devices and workflow in the store, by reusing standard retail functionality and without re-coding the existing POS business logic.

A South Australian restaurant/pub has been the target of a social media backlash after erecting a sign decrying new public holiday penalty rates. 

The Bombay Bicycle, located in Ovingham near North Adelaide, has come under fire after erecting a sign on their premises (later posted to their Facebook page) complaining that the new laws that require establishments to pay employees 2.75 times on public holidays. 

The plaque in question was a copy of the Bombay Bicycle menu with all prices being multiplied by 2.75, an attempt by the owner to present their opinion on a change to awards some considered to be unfair on small businesses. The plaque received minor attention by patrons, with some disagreeing with the restaurant's stance. 

However, after a picture of the sign was posted to the pub’s Facebook page, along with an explanation by an employee of the Bombay Bicycle about why they thought the new laws were bad, consumer backlash became fierce. While some posters were willing to engage in a debate, others were more content with voicing their concern a bit more overtly. 

“Here's a quick maths formula. Multiply zero (which equals the amount I will now spend at your establishment) by 2.75 and see what it equals,” wrote one angry commenter, while another suggested that the Bombay Bicycle “don’t open on public holidays or take [the extra money] out of your plaque money fund”

One commenter simply lambasted the restaurant, exclaiming “Pay penalty rates you bourgeois swine!”

Quote of the Day

“Today our customers reflect Australia's proud multicultural heritage and it makes sense for us to celebrate this heritage on special occasions such as Chinese New Year.”

David Jones CEO and Managing Director Paul Zahra, discussing their planned Chinese New Year celebrations and their recent acceptance of UnionPay, China’s national credit/debit card. With 3.5 million cards on issue, is is the largest card program in the world. 

Picture of the Day

oOh! Media has just completed a multi-million dollar upgrade to include advertising sites at Australia’s busiest airport, Sydney Terminal 2 (T2). The upgrade is part of oOh!’s $20 million investment over four years in Australia to deliver world class digital advertising opportunities across major airports.

Video of the Day

What happens when one of the most recognisable film stars in the world decides to go back to work…in disguise? That’s exactly what happened earlier this week when former Terminator/Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger donned a uniform, along with a fake moustache and wig, to help patrons at Gold’s Gym in Los Angeles. Attempting to raise awareness for a charity supporting after-school programs, Arnold became physical fitness assistant Howard and pottered around the gym helping patrons and trying to remain unrecognised. It didn’t work.