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Tuesday, 13 January  2009  Big Box Shopping

A new style of shopping has shop owners and businesses worried.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: Strip shops and suburban shopping centres have been the basic fodder for consumers in Tasmania for as long as most of us can remember. But a revolution in retailing is about to hit the State.

VICTOR TILLEY, RETAILER: They're a common change from what we have had. We haven't experienced them down here in Tassie before.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: They're called big box developments. They cover a massive area of floor space within the one building. Their size means they can stock a range of bulky goods like furniture or even swimming pool displays.
They're proving to be big consumer drawcards interstate and now it's Tasmania's turn. There are two big box developments proposed - one in the north and one in the south.

KIM POLLEY, MAYOR, NORTHERN MIDLANDS COUNCIL: It would be great because at the moment there is something like 21% of spending is what they call escape spending where people go out of the area, out of the region, to buy their major goods. That would reduce down to 12% or 14%. That has to be good for this part of the State.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: But it's facing opposition from the Launceston Chamber of Commerce. It believes the new development on the outskirts of the town will draw customers away from the city.

JO ARCHER, LAUNCESTON: That really is creating a brand new shopping centre. It's 30,000 square metres of retail space which is significant. It's about half the size of the CBD and it's creating a destination, another destination that defrays existing areas. We have a huge concern with that.

KIM POLLEY: They say it'll have a 10% impact in Launceston, only a 4% in the CBD. And that's within the rounds of healthy competition. This is free enterprise.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: A similar plan for a homemaker centre in southern Tasmania has been less contentious.

ALDERMAN JOCK CAMPBELL, DEPUTY MAYOR, CLARENCE CITY COUNCIL: I think it will be of great benefit to the community as well. We've always needed additional employment on the eastern shore and this will substantially increase our employment base.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: The Clarence City Council is hoping to have rezoning of the land approved late this month. But some furniture retailers are worried how big multinational competitors will impact on their business as well as the effects on local manufacturers.

CRAIG BONNITCHA, FURNITURE RETAILER: There are five locally-owned businesses in the area. It has to be transference of that business to another location which will have an impact. That's probably the main concern. The other concern would be they are going to be all imports.

GARY THOMAS, RETAILER: Coming home on the plane Sunday afternoon we noticed a lot of bags being carried by people who obviously had a great time shopping in Melbourne over the weekend. If we're offering a broader range of product and price, people can buy locally, I don't think it would be a problem. I think it would be very excellent if we could achieve that.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: Ultimately it's going to be up to consumers to decide where they shop and how much they spend, which means if big box developments become a reality, the competition for the retail dollar is only likely to intensify.

VICTOR TILLEY: It will keep everybody on their toes but competition is good at the end of the day. It is going to be an interesting one to see if there's enough dollars to go around.

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English Bites - Big Box Shopping
story notes

 strip shops
A ‘strip’ is a long, narrow piece of something. So strip shops are shops grouped all together in a row. A strip of shops could cover a whole street, or it could be just a few stores in a row.

 suburban shopping centres
A shopping centre is a big building or complex that includes a number of shops. It might also include restaurants and car parking. Suburban shopping centres are those found in the suburbs.

A revolution is a big and important change.

Retailing refers to the act of selling goods to the public.

 floor space
Floor space refers to the space inside a building.

A drawcard is something that attracts attention. Big box shopping draws, or attracts, consumers.

Interstate means in other states.

 at the moment
now; at this time
Example: At the moment I'm reading this example.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 at the end of the day
The phrase at the end of the day is used to indicate that someone is stating the final or most important fact in a situation.
Example: At the end of the day a decision has to be made.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

What does it mean to keep someone on their toes?

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