TOWN of Claremont Mayor Jock Barker has called for the reintroduction of tariffs on online shopping in a bid to save local retailers.
In the wake of Amazon Australia officially launching on December 4, Mr Barker said every item on the site should be subject to a tariff.
“When the Federal Government removed tariffs all those years ago it was a totally different world and retail was doing well,” he said.
While the mayor is concerned about the effect Amazon will have on local Claremont businesses, he said his own Mt Hawthorn shop Australian Formal Wear would not suffer because his clients like to be fitted for their suits.
Zoo Products owner Hugh Brown said shops would be “boarded up” within four years if people shopped online and did not support local business.
“At the moment we and other small retailers are getting used and abused to try stuff on and get photos,” Mr Brown said.
“They get the label and go online while we continue to pay rent.”
Toyworld Claremont owner Peter Smart said while he had discussed the launch of Amazon Australia with his wife, it was just another online player that was competing against other websites.
“But if local shops aren’t supported by their customers, the community will fade away,” Mr Smart said.
“Use us or lose us.”
Western Suburbs Business Association president Mark Hann said it was early days but the Amazon launch was significant and likely to have an effect on businesses across the board.
“Many potential customers have and will visit Amazon; businesses should visit online to see what it’s all about,” Mr Hann said.
“Amazon is largely about price, so local businesses should focus on their points of difference, for example service, personal knowledge about clients, communication, loyalty rewards and product knowledge.”
WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Economist Rick Newnham used the Amazon launch to call for increased trading hours.
“Traditional West Australian retailers will soon be disrupted at an unprecedented rate as the shift to online shopping ramps up,” Mr Newnham said.
“Online stores don’t have governments telling them to hit the off switch at 5pm, and neither should WA businesses.”