Can retailers win the Black Friday wars?

Today is Black Friday, and while it's not the latest economic crisis to befall the planet, though it could be as calamitous for our retailers if they (and the government) do not buck their ideas up.

Today is Black Friday, and while it's not the latest economic crisis to befall the planet, though it could be as calamitous for our retailers if they (and the government) do not buck their ideas up.

For those that don't know, Black Friday is a US term for the day after Thanksgiving when Americans have their busiest shopping day.

Amazon is using the day as a major day for sales, flooding its global websites with bargains.

Such discounting won't only affect the credit cards and clicking fingers of those in the US and the UK, but also Down Under, where our strong currencies hold strong against the US Dollar, meaning that there are bargains to be had from this and other US-based websites.

Thus, the biggest competitors for our local retailers aren't each other, but e-commerce outfits in the US!

These e-commerce sites have a further advantage due to the fact thatsales to Kiwis under NZ$400 (AU$1000 to Australians) are also free of GST.

This has led to cries of unfair competition from retailers both in New Zealand and Australia, as they fear such trading will "ruin" Christmas.

Furthermore, in America there are complaints that it's unfair that online retailers are free of domestic sales taxes that their bricks and mortar rivals must pay.

I accept this does seem a little unfair, but our retailers must do more than just bleat to government.

It has been reported that just a third of New Zealand small businesses have a website, with only a fifth selling online.

Major retailers like Kathmandu only began its online selling as late as last October!

They all must do better, by developing good quality, secure, easy-to-use e-commerce sites that are well promoted for locals to use and trust.

And regardless of the strength our currencies, why cannot our retailers also use their sites to promote sales globally of their Antipodean fare?

New Zealand successfully developed its own eBay in TradeMe. But where is our Amazon?

With further GST rises now imminent in New Zealand, the UK and now Eire, governments need to be aware such actions will only cause extra damage to their domestic retail sectors in today's online global village.

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