Big Stock Issues Loom As Victorians Go Shopping Crazy

As Victorians flock into retail stores several looming problems are set to potentially crimp sales right across Australia.

They include stock supply, problems in China with the sourcing of components and new industrial problems on the wharves in Sydney.

Yesterday at Victorian retailers JB Hi Fi, Harvey Norman, Big W and The Good Guys it was described as being like “Boxing Day” with stock being swept up in frenzied buying as consumers returned to retail stores and shopping centres.

Now suppliers are predicting massive shortages during the normal peak buying period of December January and into 2021.

One major problem is that Australia is seen as a small market and not an A grade market with surging online demand in markets such as the USA, Europe and even India and China taking manufacturing and supply priority over Australia.

According to Cameron Grigg at Melbourne based distributor Aqipa stock supply is “getting very tight”.

“We are a European owned Company and due to the return to lockdowns in Europe online demand has again surged with markets like Europe struggling to get supply of work from home and Entertainment products. Web cams and monitors are in short supply and due to the size of the Australian market manufacturers are prioritising their A grade markets ahead of Australia”.

He added “This will lead to major supply problem from early next year”.

A senior executive at Tempo who are a major supplier of TV’s said “There will be an up to 30% shortfall in TV supply in the new year. Retailers are already moving to stop discounting with stock on hand potentially set to rise in price” they said.

Several online sites are already marketing pre orders for short supply stock, some eStore operators are also marking up prices above the recommended retail price.

According to Grigg “Currently price is not an issue, consumers are prepared to pay the recommended or even more simply to get their hands on a product”.

Some suppliers, such as Melbourne based Blue Ant who recently launched a new party speaker have managed to secure stock.

Taisen Maddern the CEO of Blue Ant said “We are lucky we have several containers arriving with stock that will help retailers through the peak buying period. We anticipated supply problems and increased our orders for our network speakers and new party box speakers” he said.

Retailers that we have spoken to are expecting today to be similar to yesterday as Victorians who have been in lockdown for three months are allowed to visit retailers.

David Jones Melbourne manager Magda Combrinck outside the flagship Melbourne store. Customers were snapping up luxury goods, beauty brands and Apple’s latest iPhone on reopening day. Eamon Gallagher

“We had the majority of our teams coming into the stores yesterday [Tuesday] and the energy in the stores was just amazing and the camaraderie of the teams preparing for opening.

“I definitely think there’s an energy in the street as well, customers walking around, and we’ve had so many selfies in front of our window. It’s just been amazing.

At K Mart stores lines snaked around the block across Melbourne in the lead-up to their reopening on Tuesday night as five of the chain’s stores opened the second, they were legally allowed to at midnight.

About 500 customers had gone through within half an hour of midnight, Kmart Group managing director Ian Bailey said.

Kmart is also keeping all its stores that are not already open 24 hours a day open from 7am to midnight until Christmas in a bid to spread out the number of shoppers in store.

At Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s south-east retailers forced to shut during the lockdown finally welcomed customers through the door.

Among the big drawcards at the centre on Wednesday was a sneaker release at Footlocker and the opening of Seed’s Flagship store.
Centre manager Michael Whitehead said “During COVID, [the centre] felt almost very sad where it felt almost deserted but now you feel this absolute weight that’s been lifted, this excitement that’s going through the centre from our retailers and the customers coming back who are just really happy. There’s this relief to be out and about.”

Mr Whitehead said the centre felt “buzzy” on Wednesday, but it had not been excessively busy.