EXCLUSIVE:The head of JB Hi Fi, Terry Smart, has backed Gerry Harvey the Chairman of the Harvey Norman Group in his call for a 10 percent GST to be slapped on all overseas online purchases under $1,000.
Unlike Harvey Norman who has no real online retail operation due to problems with his franchisees, JB Hi Fi has witnessed 25 percent growth in the last quarter from their online operations.
Smart said: “Yes I support what Gerry Harvey is calling for as it is going to be tough competing against overseas web sites. We are growing online and the big difference is that we are in a position where we can offer our customers the choice of walking into a store or shopping online”.
“We are offering customers free home delivery and we are running special promotions via our online operation and we are growing,” he added.
eBay spokesman Dan Feiler said the move by Gerry Harvey to call for a 10 percent GST Tax on online sales, was “an unfair attack on Australian consumers” while Deborah Sharkey, managing director eBay Australia & New Zealand, said Australian-based sellers on eBay had experienced “phenomenal growth” this year.
“These sellers are reaping the rewards because they are competing online and meeting demand from Aussie buyers,” she said.
Harvey, who has slammed online retailing in the past claiming “It will never take off” is facing several issues due to a lack of investment in his own online operations and a complicated franchising model where owners of Harvey Norman stores want a share of the online revenue from customers who purchase from a Harvey Norman web site.
Sharkey said: “We can’t understand why some retailers would seek to attack the consumer, when the answer is to simply get online.”
Talking to the ABC Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, said that the government was not considering imposing the GST on more online sales, despite signalling his concern at the competition faced by Australian retailers.
”Certainly there is no policy proposition about a GST for online shopping, but what is happening is there is a debate emerging from retailers in Australia who feel that the $1000 threshold [under which GST does not apply] is too high,” Mr Shorten said.
Earlier this week ChannelNews revealed that several US retailers are set to move into Australia with new online web sites, and that they will offer goods at up to 50 percent off what Australian retailers are selling the same products for in their stores. Among the US traders set to move into Australia are Staples, Amazon who already sell here, and Best Buy.