Launa Inman, managing director of Target Australia, is cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, despite the potential for less discretionary spend driven by increased mortgage interest rates. 
Talking to the organisers of the World Retail Congress, Inman said that while Australia was not as heavily impacted by the global financial crisis as other countries, there are no more government stimulus packages planned and with the likelihood of further increases in mortgage interest rates there will potentially be less discretionary spend.
“As always cash flow and maintaining tight cost controls is critical,” she said. 
“We are managing current consumer sentiment, which is cautious and value driven, with a careful balance of the right product, volumes and price points. While at the same time it’s important for us to position the business for the upturn and the new opportunities that will present.
“Gone are the days of excess and overt materialism. Consumers are value conscious, and when they do spend their purchases are more considered and practical. It’s important to be focused on value. Get very close to the customer and be in constant two-way communication with them so you can understand what they want and deliver it faster than your competitors.”
Inman said Crate and Barrel was her favourite shop. “The whole atmosphere is inviting, the product is very stylish and well displayed – it draws you in and encourages you to shop.
“I admire Target US because they’ve brought style to the masses. They always have something new and exciting that offers great value. I feel they’ve really carved out their niche against strong competition from other retailers like Walmart,” added Inman when asked which retailer she admired the most.
The next World Retail Congress will take place in Berlin from 21 to 23 April and includes a three-day agenda of plenary sessions, business streams and networking events.