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Industry news

Google Fastest Growing Product Categories

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Google has created a new tool — Rising Retail Categories — to provide retailers with information on the fastest-growing product categories in their search results. The point Google makes is that since the outbreak of coronavirus, there has been a significant change in consumer interest, so to help retailers see the changes they have created this tool. I picked on the category "Greet & Note Cards" selected Australia and looked at the past week.

Not surprisingly Mother's Day was big, but interestingly birthdays and anniversary cards were on the increase.

Here is a video to explain it.

If you want to have a shot click here have a play and see what you think. I think it will give you some ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics on retail trade released

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These figures are what are leaders will be using to base their decisions, so like many people associated with retail, I was looking forward with great interest to see what these people produced. You will find their results here for the March month. 

Unfortunately, it is limited as it only breaks it down into these retail types

Food 
Household goods 
Clothing, footwear and personal accessory 
Department stores 
Other retailing  
Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services ;

The spreadsheet, I think that you will find to be the most useful is: TABLE 3. Retail Turnover, By State 

Now select the retail type you find most useful and compare March 2019 to March 2020.

Now you will get a feel of what the government and ATO think is happening now.

From what I can see, based on these figures food and household goods are up. No surprise there as many people were sitting at home with little to do in March so they cook and fix up the house. Conversely, clothing and restaurants were taking a big beating although not as high as I expect. We will need to wait till April as lockdown only started in Australia in late March so most of that change here is the voluntary lockdown. which we can expect to continue after the official lockdown ends. People are not suddenly going to go shopping just because the government says they can.

One point that does appears based on our figures that it does not show here but I think you will find when you compare figures is that people are shopping less but buying more on each trip. 

 

 

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More shops on The Department of Social Services Cashless debit cards

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We are now shortlisting candidates for the Department of Social Services Cashless debit cards in the trial which we are involved.

Now the Federal Government has decided to extend the trials, while I don’t have any inside knowledge of future government decisions, I believe that It is likely that within two years, these cards will be Australia Wide as these will be I expect the primary means of paying social security. 

I know that stores on the program are positive about it. 

Currently in some areas now, over 60% of the people have these new debit cards. For most of them, it is their only financial means. The situation now is if you are in these areas, if you cannot accept these cards, you cannot make much trade with these people. 

We are very pleased with the fierce competition out there that we picked to do the trials in our market space we were picked by software and computer experts. 

 

Cashless_Welfare_Card

In the long term, by numbers, depending on how you count between 33% to about 50% of Australian households get social security payments and with our aging population, this is likely to increase in the future. Plus I can also see many people with drug and gambling problems volunteering to go on these cards and the courts enforcing these cards too on people with problems. 

If you want to look at it in dollar terms, we pay about $180 billion now in social security a year of which at least 80% plus will probably go through these cards. The adult population of Australia is around 18.2 million, so just with that, we are looking at about $9,000 a person a year.

For many retailers now these cards are significant and I am sure soon for many more.

 

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Bauer Media what is happening???

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As many of you know Bauer Media has been doing some intense cost-cutting including closing its entire New Zealand arm.

Now it looks like it is trying to amend the agreement for Seven’s magazine assets, however what is worrying is if you read this article about it here.

Mumbrella understands some parties are concerned that should Bauer Media choose to exit Australia, or be unable to

continue business here.

For magazine sellers this could be very serious as Bauer Media is the publisher of the Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day and Gourmet Traveller, among many other titles.

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Uncertainty over Bauer, on its Pacific Magazines acquisition

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It appears that the Bauer may be reconsidering its proposed purchase of Pacific Magazines deal despite getting ACCC approval.

Everyone is sure it has to do with the uncertainly of coronavirus.

If I was Blauer,  I would be wondering about coronavirus firstly what it will do to circulation. Some think that with more people at home, reading magazine will grow in popularity.

Still, that is not the big revenue issue but the fact that that the outlook for advertising spending is down, the prime problem here is the postponement of significant events such as the Olympics.

If it does not go ahead, I think that it is unfortunate for many magazine resellers, as the commercial reality today means the acquisition it is necessary to produce cost cuts required by the industry.

Having said that despite what has been said the circulation declines in the last few years, I expect more magazine titles closing. What is important is that this acquisition may reduce this trend.

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Note on newsagency computer systems and numbers

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A competitor released a dubious statement which among claims is that they serve more newsagencies then anyone and that this is shown by evidence that is 

1) recent

2) independent

3) verified 

As such from what I gather their system

1) the industry standard - something that I doubt eg much in magazine processing and lotto they cannot do.  

2) Not expensive - something that would surprise many of its users and me too.

When I queried them about what the evidence, it appears that it comes from a series of court cases they were involved in going from 2004 to 2009, hardly what I would call recent.

If so it would not be what I would call independent.

They then claimed to me that the other side agreed with the facts. The problem here is that the case never was resolved in court so that the judge would not have assessed this. Still, then it gets puzzling as I went through the court records and the opposing barrister's book, which has the information they need in the case. I can find no record of such a document. When I queried my competitor about this, I am still waiting for a reply. Until then, it is hardly what I would call verified.

So I have great doubts about all this, but I am willing to keep an open mind if they want to show me the evidence. 

Note: We offered to have an 

1) recent

2) independent

3) verified 

report on this subject with them, when it mattered and they refused.

 

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Afterpay Touch Group - eServices Wind Down continued

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Many of you have contacted us to ask us what is happening as a result of the Afterpay Touch Group winding down their eService business. 

Please give us some more time.

To fill you in, if you are not following the story.

Touchcorp was in Dec 2016, was making a profit of 11.5 million dollars

Take a look at its revenue figures in yellow and its profit in blue from the report 

See what Afterpay are walking away from? It states much of the changes in the economy.

We do not consider the ePay terminal, which is not integrated as a satisfactory solution.

But rest assured that we have been on to it. We have spoken to Touch management, ePay, Telstra, I think all major gift card distributors in Australia, the fisheries departments, NewsCorp, WA news, etc. I have also communicated to a whole lot more, e.g. Optus, VANA (who by the way have not responded for some reason), etc.   I can report all of these are in a state of shock about it too.

This is partly as who wants an extra box on the counter and partly as there is so little margin to be made out of these products that to make it work, it must be integrated. Beside our integrated solution gives I believe the best margins to retailers, why should they drop margin on a terminal?

I told these suppliers straight out that we consider this a significant product to our clients who are doing in the high teens millions of dollars trade a year with these products. Okay I told them, it does not produce a high income because your margins are so low, but it does bring many people into the shop. As a first-level approximation as even a small shop is getting about two trades a day. Assuming a client acquisition cost in retail in Australia at about $15 and about a third of the trade is new customers, we are looking at (2 a day x $15 x 300 days a year x 3 years x 33%) = a goodwill value of about $10,000 lost if no alternative comes forward.

Okay, we hope to have something soon to tell you, but please give us a little more time as we are reluctant to discuss what is being proposed until we have confirmation about where our users and we stand. The last thing we want to do is to say something which does not happen. 

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Afterpay Touch Group - eServices Wind Down – 30th June 2020

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At the start of February, we were notified that the eServices from Touch Afterpay confidentially advised us that they were closing down. Apparently it does not fit into their strategic priorities and as such their long-term growth. This was a shock as we have been using this service for almost twenty years. It is a very good service.

Presently we are discussing the situation with Afterpay and with some of their suppliers all that appear to be quite in shock about this announcement. Everyone is saying that they did not get enough warning to make plans although several like the NSW Fishing licence sales, told me that they do not have an alternative in place so if you want to sell their products after the closure then you need to contact them directly and they will if you are approved they will put you on a manual system. 

Some suppliers, however now, are looking at options, as they know that many of their sellers will drop their products if they need to go to a terminal and/or manual system. When we have some answers, we will get back to you.

Now, all we can say is that we are talking to people, we are looking for options and we may be about to do something.

If someone wants to discuss it with me further or they have some information that they think they should share with us about it, please let me know.

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Latest newspaper delivery fees announced

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Looking at the new distribution fees, they vary but as a first-level approximation, I would say its average of just less than 1.5%

Surely they should be more if only because the Australian inflation rate in 2019 was 1.90% but almost certainly NewsCorp views are that this is all the market could afford. They may be right.

 

 

 

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Magazines and newspapers

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Two interesting reports are now available for retailers interested in print. The Magazine where the key findings here are that overall on Year on Year figures (YOY) printed magazines are about 8% down in readership, they are not releasing sales here, and digital readership is not just a touch bigger than print and Newspaper where print is listed as being about 15% down, and today digital readership is almost three (3) times bigger then print.  

 

 

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