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twitterTWITTER is the new tool being used to fight against high supermarket prices across Australia.

Following the failure of the Federal Government’s Grocery Choice website – set up to help shoppers find the lowest grocery prices in supermarkets around the country – a group of IT experts are using Twitter and Google Groups to develop Price Check, a website they hope will save shoppers money.

Using crowd-sourcing technology, shoppers will eventually be able to log onto the web or via a mobile phone application to find the best-priced supermarket items in their area.

The website will allow shoppers to enter their entire shopping list on the website to find the best prices.                                                                                                     

Users will also be asked to update price items.

“I think I am heavily in favour of an open system and I believe there should be access to the public,’’ idea developer Rob Mason told news.com.au.

“(Users) will be able to enter their postcode … and source products on the site linked to the data base and compare prices and find which supermarket is best-priced.”

Mr Mason said the more the public demand access to cheaper prices, the more likely supermarket giants such as Coles and Woolworths will comply.

He said the response from Twitter users has been “fantastic”.

“If we get people involved and active, we can get all the prices in all the supermarkets,” he said.

“The feedback has been really good; we have gathered as much followers as the big supermarkets.”

Mr Mason said the major supermarkets have a responsibility to be open about their prices.

He admitted if successful, the Price Check idea would be unpopular with the supermarket chains.

“There is absolutely no commercial gain for them to be had by being open and transparent,” he said.

“At the moment it is more of a social thing, supporting an open system rather than saving heaps of money … but there is a potential.”

Follow @price_check for notification of the website launch.

Source www.news.com.au

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Retailers are boosting staff numbers in anticipation of an improvement in consumer spending, according to the Australian Retailers Association.                 retail

The industry group’s executive director, Richard Evans, said surveys of association members showed a 12 per cent jump in employment for small and medium-sized retailers this month, painting a much more positive picture than figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this month.

The number of people employed in the retail sector fell by less than 0.1 per cent last month compared with February, on a seasonally adjusted basis, but the ABS also reported an increase in underutilisation—the proportion of the workforce that is either unemployed or not working as many hours as it would like.

The rate of underutilisation among female workers was 9.1per cent last month, compared with 6.4 per cent for men, which the ABS attributed to the larger proportion of women working in industries with high levels of casual employment, such as retail.

However, Mr Evans said most retailers were holding on to skilled staff in preparation for rising demand, with 68 per cent reporting no change in employment levels in the past quarter.

“A further 16 per cent of retailers actually increased their number of staff during the same period,” he said.

“Retailing works in cycles, and although the sector has experienced a downturn, good retailers are doing their best to hold on to skilled staff as consumer confidence continues to grow and a new type of consumer emerges.”

The same trend was in play among the bigger retailers, with David Jones boosting staffing levels around the Mother’s Day shopping period after the delivery of the federal government’s fiscal stimulus package in April led to a sharp rebound in sales.

Mr Evans said the stimulus package and lower interest rates meant most consumers had more cash available to spend, but “negative and fear-filled commentary” had fuelled a tendency among consumers to cut discretionary spending in favour of saving or paying off debt.

This meant shoppers would be in a better position to spend when confidence picks up again—with the ARA forecasting an improvement as soon as the September quarter.

Source  :  www.careerone.com.au

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Shopping centres in Perth are handing out cards warning youths they could be banned from the venues in a bid to crack down on antisocial behaviour.
   
Security guards at Westfield’s Innaloo, Carousel and Whitford City centres also carry photographs of those already banned.

The youth cards  introduced at the beginning of the year  were not a punishment and were available to all members of the public on request.
   
The cards warned teenagers what behaviour was expected of them, how they could expect to be treated by security guards and the consequences of antisocial behaviour — including bans of 24 hours to six months.
    
Youths are encouraged at the centres but they should not detract from other people’s safety or comfort. Currently there are no serious problems with youths at the shopping centres.
   
Security guards carried photographs of banned youths so they could be easily recognised if they returned before permitted.   

Ms Laschon said shopping centres were a natural, safe meeting place for people of all ages. She said the conditions of Westfield’s youth cards should apply to all shoppers.
   
“The whole idea of screaming at the top of your voice and running around happens with lots of people at the beginning of sale time. It’s not only teenagers that get excited,” she said. 
  
AMP Capital Shopping Centres communication manager Scott Gillespie said the company’s Karrinyup, Garden City and Ocean Keys complexes did not have a similar system in place.

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online_shoppingSupermarket internet shopping has arrived in Perth, with Coles launching the service a few weeks ago and Woolworths expected to follow its rival’s lead within months.

General manager of online shopping for Coles, Keith Louie, said the use of the service had exceeded the company’s expectations and had created 150 jobs in Perth.

Thousands of orders have been taken in the few weeks the service has been operating.

Rival retailer Woolworths says it plans to go online in Perth by the end of the calendar year.

Spokesperson for Woolworths Claire Buchanan said online supermarket shopping was still very much a niche market.

“We tend to see a lot of people buying their bulky goods online and then shopping for fresh produce themselves. This is even though we tell them that our staff hand pick the goods as if they were buying for their own families,” Ms Buchanan said.

She said the value of online shopping to Woolworths equated to an additional supermarket in each of the cities in which it had been established.

“The market is still very small,” Ms Buchanan said.

“But once people try it they tend to come back. Some people will do a monthly shop online and then top up by visiting their local supermarket each week to get fresh food.

“We have online shopping in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne and by the end of this year will have it in Brisbane and Perth.”

Mr Louie said people were opting to shop online because they wanted more control over their spending.

He said shoppers in Perth could now choose from over 20,000 supermarket products online.

PERTH
JANE HAMMOND http://www.thewest.com.au

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