New measures keep local business up with the internet

By Greg Bell

For most bricks and mortar retailers, online shops pose quite a challenge to cash​ flow. The convenience offered by internet shopping has seen its popularity steadily rise in recent times, sometimes to the detriment of local business. Roy Morgan Research from March this year indicated that food and beverages were the fastest growing online retail category of the past four years – something that many people involved in retail leasing on the Gold Coast might be worried about. 

However, it was fashion, reading materials and entertainment or leisure products that were the most popular items for online retailers. Anyone who owns commercial property on the Gold Coast and is concerned about competing with online international retailers, however, now have cause for celebration.

Changes to GST flagged for retail

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) met recently, and decided to push GST being charged for online transactions from overseas, as long as they are less than $1,000. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has been thrilled to hear this news, with CEO Kate Carnell noting the multiple benefits to flow down from this in a 23 July media release. 

"Ensuring overseas online transactions are treated the same as domestic sales makes a lot of sense because it will mean retailers are operating on a more level playing field," she noted.

"We know many local retailers are doing it tough in the face of online overseas rivals and this change will remove an unfair advantage."

A more fair retail landscape could be ideal for business owners interesting in picking up commercial property for sale on the Gold Coast. With high visitor numbers and expenditure, there is an excellent chance to establish a successful business here, and putting GST on overseas internet purchases should aid this cause further. 

Positivity on a local level

ACCI wasn't the only body to praise the COAG move, either. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland's (CCIQ) director of advocacy Nick Behrens stated that many retailers in our state find it nigh-impossible to keep up with online retailers in the current environment, and welcomed the change. 

"Businesses in the retail industry have told CCIQ that overseas competition via online purchasing is killing profitability, thereby undermining the viability of smaller retailers' altogether," he said.

It also comes at a time when local business could really do with a shot in the arm. Gold Coast business confidence was languishing in the most recent Westpac/CCIQ Pulse Survey of Business Conditions, so a levelling of the playing field might inspire confidence in many companies here. 

"CCIQ believes the time has come to make legitimate in-roads to ease the burden on smaller retailers and there is no better way to do this than to ensure goods purchased online from overseas attract GST," added Mr Behrens. 

Still things to smile about

Even if business confidence isn't currently peaking, retail trade still appears to be doing well across the state. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' retail turnover figures, Queensland businesses experienced a seasonally adjusted 0.2 per cent increase in this figure across May. Food retailing and household goods retailing led the way nationally, suggesting that businesses can still perform well against online stores. 

Expanding your business into the Gold Coast gives operators the opportunity to capitalise on one of the hottest tourism markets in the country, and perhaps restore some of this lost business confidence. Anyone who is buoyed by the new level playing field may wish to look at retail leasing on the Gold Coast, in which case Ray White Surfers Paradise is here to help. We have a long history of matching business owners with their ideal commercial properties. 

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