RetailBiz Round Up for Wednesday 22 January 2014 – with Patrick Avenell
oday's ASX results are here

The days of fashionably squiggling an illegible signature to complete a purchase are numbered — 190 to be precise — with signing for credit card and debit card purchases being phased out by 30 July 2014.

The following day, 1 August 2014, will see only PIN numbers as a way of authorising purchases. To facilitate this change, 800,000 payment terminals nationwide will need to be updated.

There will be one exception to this change: overseas visitors will still be able to authorise payment through signing, otherwise many retailers would have no way of processing sales in some instances.

“The move to PIN is about strengthening payment security across Australia and it takes advantage of the chip technology on Australian payment cards,” said a spokesperson for PINwise, the industry organisation that has advocated for this change.

“Starting with some of the nation’s largest merchants, the move will gradually see all of Australia’s 800,000 merchant payment terminals undergo a software update to require PIN at the point of sale. For most, these costs will be covered by the terminal’s provider.”

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, welcome the move, saying retailers needed to be patient to teething problems associated with the switchover and will eventually see the benefits.

“While the switch may take a little adjustment at first, this is an update to Australia’s payment technology that will make transactions safer," he said.

“Business owners, merchants, retailers, and the like should embrace this change as it’s about reducing fraud, thus saving time and money.”

Click here to sign up for RetailBiz's free daily newsletter

Gloria Jean’s Coffees managing director Mark Bilton has beaten out four leading retail rivals to claim the 2014 Michael Page Retail Executive Award and the 5-city retail study tour prize that comes with it.

To win the Michael Page Retail Executive Award, Bilton these runners up:

Tony Sutton (Myer executive GM)
Tim Schaafsma (Freedom MD)
Mark Daynes (Jeanswest CEO)
Stephen Heath (Fantastic Holdings CEO)

The prize for winning this award, which recognises excellence in implementing change and transformation initiatives into a business, is a free place on the 2014 Westfield World Retail Study Tour, which includes stops in San Francisco, Seattle, Stockholm, London and Barcelona.

“We were very impressed with the calibre of applicants we received, and we are thrilled to announce Mark Bilton as the winner of the Michael Page Retail Executive Award for 2014,” said Michael Page regional director Richard Wynne.

“Mr Bilton’s entry stood out most for his ability to design and implement a business strategy that added significant value for all stakeholders, through a leadership style that is genuine, inclusive and engaging.”

Understandably, Bilton said he was looking forward to such an amazing study tour:

“I look forward to meeting with sector experts and industry leaders, while travelling to great cities and experiencing cutting edge retail,” he said. “This trip will also be a fantastic opportunity for me to be exposed to the latest trends and influence my thinking; inspiration is borne from experience.”

Research firm Euromonitor International has revealed its 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2014:

Interest and purchase: a narrowing gap
Eating right
Eco-worriers and social conscience
The importance of home and community
Frustrations with work/life balance
Luxury for more consumers
People’s choice
Post-recession coping: a new normal
There’s an app for that…
Visual craving

"In 2014, consumers epitomise contradictions. They show a desire to indulge in luxury and instant gratification, expressed by the need for an even smarter smartphone, a passion for apps, a faster route to purchase and a craving for the visual,” the report says. “However, in parallel are struggles for better work/life balance, the concerns of eco-worriers, an appreciation of frugality and imperfection and a longing for the authenticity of home and community.”

The full report and an explanation of these trends is available from Euromonitor International

Consumer sentiment is at 6-month lows at the moment, according to Westpac chief economist Bill Evans. 

"The Westpac-Melbourne Index of Consumer Sentiment is now at its lowest level since July 2013 and is 6.6 per cent below the recent peak in September last year,” he said. “Nevertheless the Index remains comfortably in the zone where optimists outnumber pessimists.”

Margy Osmond, CEO of the Australian National Retailers Association, was circumspect in her analysis.

“Today’s result is a mixed bag for the retail sector: a drop in confidence is never good news, however, there are some bright spots for the retail sector in the year ahead as the index points to far more optimists than pessimists out there at the moment,” she said, in an eerily similar quote to Bill Evans.

“A subdued employment market and slower house price rises have left consumers feeling cautious about spending this month and this is reflected in the falls across sub-indexes that track views on family finances.

“However, despite a slight drop in consumer confidence retailers are optimistic underlying momentum in areas such as ‘time to buy a major household item’ will deliver positive results for the sector in the first half of the year.”

Dick Smith was out promoting its sponsorship of the NRL Auckland Nines today in Sydney. “We have 61 stores in New Zealand so it is very important to support the community there,” said CEO Nick Abboud. “We are a very large business in New Zealand and we’ve sponsored this for the next five years.” 

Sydney Liquor stores will have to close at 10pm under new laws proposed by the New South Wales government. “These new measures are tough and for that I make no apologies. I expect opposition to some or all of the measures, but the community wants strong action and the NSW Government intends to deliver it,” said Premier Barry O’Farrell. 

Quote of the Day

“The world first mobile website with photo assistant and geo-location app ‘wish-list’ tool has been created specifically to make gift-receiving (and giving) that much easier, especially when it’s the right sized lingerie you want this Valentine’s Day.”

– This press release for new gift listing app, Wish Registry, took a sudden and risque turn. The app is available on iTunes.

Image of the Day

Popular TV host Chrissie Swan has signed an exclusive deal with Big W for her Avella range of stylish clothes for 18-28-size women.