Everywhere you look these days, established retailers are dropping like flies. The casualty list is long – Retravision, WOW Sight & Sound, Angus & Robertson, Borders, Colorado Group, Retail Adventures and Darrell Lea are just some of the archetypal retail brands that have closed their doors for good in the past few years.
Times remain tough for the retailers left standing, from Harvey Norman whose profits dropped 20 percent in the September quarter to David Jones, which reported a 40 percent slide in net profit in its last set of full-year results.
About five years ago, retailers were caught sleeping by two huge trends – technology and the changing needs of the consumer. The founder of retail consultancy Retail Oasis, Stephen Kulmar, says Australian retail was "myopically focused" on business efficiencies and cost savings from about 1999 to 2007.
"Retail was simply caught with its pants down when the markets stalled, the consumer became more sophisticated and digital enablement changed the shopping behaviour," Kulmar says.