VETERAN retailer Peter Kambouris says WA shoppers have every advantage to snare a bargain now, rather than wait for traditional Boxing Day sales.
With Christmas just over five weeks away, the man behind the Kambos chain of electrical and whitegoods stores says Perth retailers are in catch-up mode after a quiet past few months.
He said retailers had felt the full effect of a depressed economy in the first quarter of the financial year and would be doing everything to claw back trade through November and early December.
“The market has been that tough that any offer between now and Christmas is going to be right on the mark,” he said.
“It’s been a quiet two or three months in retail so everyone is in catch-up mode and the benefit for the consumer is they are paying post-Christmas prices right now.
“I was wandering through the city just to get a feel for it this week and they had 25, 35, 40 per cent off bathers – it only just got hot last week and they’re already discounting.
“It just shows retail’s at an immediacy – we need sales now.
“So we are making sure that our consumers are not going to get ripped off, are going to pay the right price now and then hopefully the Boxing Day sales are just a plus.”
While genuine discounts remain critical to winning over today’s savvy shopper, Mr Kambouris said retailers also need to offer something extra – like demonstrations – to bring customers in store.
“When I first started in the industry 30-odd years ago we were at the Royal Show, the Perth Home Electronic Show and Perth home shows demonstrating,” he said.
“Our industry is getting back to that because people are subconsciously saying, ‘why would I come to your store when I can just buy it on the internet’?”
In his own chain, Mr Kambouris has had success this year with carpark sales and his Joondalup warehouse will host its first this weekend, a three-day sale starting Friday.
“What consumers are looking for are events – combining a social and bargain hunting experience,” he said.
“Consumers are a lot more savvy nowadays and you see them at sales they’ve all got their mobile phones and they’re researching everything in front of them.
“But they seem to be responding to things like car park sales or event sales.
“They know they’re getting a bargain and they’re also getting a bit of an experience or outing; there’s something to eat, there’s something to drink, there’s things to see and they can snare a bargain at the same time.”
Mr Kambouris, who owns stores in Joondalup, Malaga and Canning Vale, thinks Christmas will be a good time for retailers as well as bargain hunters.
“I think people are starting to pull their heads in, we’re becoming a lot more practical,” he said.
“Particularly people who usually buy your wife or your girlfriend things like perfume or flowers and dinners – I think the public is going to be a little bit more responsible this year and perhaps say, really we need a to use that money for a new TV or airconditioning,” Mr Kambouris said.
He cited trends of people celebrating more events with home parties as an indication people would rather make their home entertaining options more enjoyable.
“It’s funny when you listen to people about what they’re doing for New Years – a lot of people are having home parties this year,” he said.
“Once upon a time spending $250 on a ticket to go to a nice restaurant and see a band was normal.
“You’re just not getting that feeling that that’s going to happen this year, it’s going to be a lot more home parties.
“People are making cost saving decisions and not only over bargains, it extends to perhaps involving replacing the hot plate or oven to do more cooking at home and less eating out at restaurants.
“We just think it’s sort of a more practical Christmas and when people are more practical we seem to do a bit better.”