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Australia - Shopping

Some expats do import goods into Australia from their home country and there are many websites where you can order some of the everyday items from home that you are missing. However, you should be aware that there are restrictions on some foodstuffs and these are regularly reviewed, so you should check with the government’s customs department website before you place your order. You will also be liable for import duties if you are bringing in a lot of goods. Consumer goods which are available in Australia are of excellent quality and brands which are well-known in the UK and the US are often available in Australia. Shopping online gives consumers a wide variety of stores that do ship to the country and shopping on auction sites such as eBay is popular.

When you are shopping in Australia then you should be prepared to haggle. Most retailers of electrical goods and household items are prepared to negotiate on price. Australians are used to doing this but it may be a new experience for some expats. Once you have learnt how the system works you will be able to make great savings. There are a few Australian shopping terms that you should be aware of too. A layby is a form of credit. You make the payments regularly but you do not receive any items until they are fully paid for. This means that you do not need to undergo any credit checks. Many people opt to do this when buying items for Christmas. The shops will keep the items for you in storage until the amounts are paid. A raincheck is another useful term. This means that if a shop has run out of a particular item, it will guarantee the low price for you when it comes back into stock. Some shops will have a sign up that says they do not offer rainchecks, but if you do not see a sign, it is worth asking.

Shop opening hours vary wildly depending upon the area you are in. In the cities most shops are open between 9 am and 6 pm from Monday to Saturday and many open for a few hours on a Sunday. In the cities there is often later opening hours on a Thursday. Shops in rural areas may have limited opening times and general stores and small supermarkets may only be open part-time in an area where there are not many people. Shop hours may also alter when there is a sale on and these are generally after Christmas and at the beginning of the winter season, although some shops will have small sales at regular intervals.

If you enjoy shopping then if you are in an urban area you will find plenty to keep you busy. The cities have large shopping malls and you can find almost anything you need from high fashion to the latest gadgets. Popular department stores include David Jones and Myer and these are popular for expensive cosmetics and designer fashions. If your budget does not stretch that far then you can opt for discount stores such as Target and Big W.

There are several supermarket chains in Australia but small stores are still very popular. The largest chain of supermarkets in Australia is Woolworths, and UK expats will also recognise the name Safeway, which has many stores in Victoria. These are not necessarily the cheapest supermarkets but most towns have one or the other. Coles is another large supermarket chain and Bi-Lo is a chain which sells bulk items very cheaply. The German supermarket chain Aldi has a number of stores in Australia too.

Consumer rights are overseen by the state governments and their websites should be your first port of call if you have a problem and the retailer will not help. Most will have an online form you can fill in if you have a complaint about a service or product and the local trading standards will look into this. You will find that there are different departments for different types of goods too, so that issues with cars can be reported to the transportation department, for example.

If you are choosing to purchase goods from another country then you should ensure that the service you are using is a reputable one. Some services are not covered by the consumer laws in Australia and international transactions may not be covered by consumer law in the other country. Always ensure that you have a method of contacting the vendor directly and you should have a way of tracking your order until it arrives.

Consumer protection in Australia covers a wide range of things. All goods that you purchase or hire should come with some sort of a guarantee and there are several which have been put into place by legislation. If you purchase a product and it is not fit for purpose you are entitled to a refund or a replacement item.

When you pay for an item you can use cash, cheque or credit or debit card. Most shops take all methods of payments although cheques are beginning to be phased out now.

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