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Online shopping hurts Australian economy

Marketplace Staff Dec 20, 2010
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Over the weekend, the Australian government announced it is launching an investigation into shoppers buying goods overseas — and avoiding the high prices and taxes in Australian stores.

Stuart Cohen reports from Sydney.


STUART COHEN: This year, Australian shoppers are finding bargains — and buying them — from American websites like Amazon.com and eBay. Because even with international shipping charges tacked on, some things are as much as half the cost. Thanks to the weakness of the U.S. dollar, Australian buying power has been near a record high for over a month. For some Aussies out doing their Christmas shopping, buying from the other side of the world is an attractive option.

FEMALE SHOPPER: With the dollar being so strong, yes it’s really good to bring things in from the States at the moment.

MALE SHOPPER: It’s a lot more convenient, especially with the shopping centers being so busy.

Australian stores admit they can lag behind in online offerings. But they say the recent shopping spree is eating into their bottom line. The country’s Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, wants to ensure Aussie businesses get their fair share.

BILL SHORTEN: What we think is important to answer is how can government participate to ensure that our very vibrant retail sector remains strong and competitive in the future.

The government allows purchases up to $1000 to be imported without a 10 percent sales tax. Something retailers say puts them at an unfair disadvantage with the U.S.

In Sydney, I’m Stuart Cohen for Marketplace.

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