New Zealand retailers and I have a love hate relationship. Mostly, I just love to hate them.
Even though logically I know that living in one of the most remote places in the developed world with only 4 million consumers makes it impossible to sustain markets like they can in larger countries of the world but it still drives me crazy that shopping generally, but specifically for clothes, books, shoes and electronic goods, is like being held to ransom until you buy either poor quality or pay a higher cost.
I am a bit embarrassed that I still buy most of my clothes and shoes overseas during trips. But elsewhere the choice is wider, quality better and with the kiwi dollar riding high it is cheaper than shopping in New Zealand. I know, not buying local is not helping the country’s economy but I can’t help myself.
It’s always the same on overseas trips. One bag out and two back. This trip was no exception and I feel I was particularly restrained to avoid temptation in some of my favourite shops in the UK.
Lots of overseas shopping opportunities have opened up for New Zealanders through online retailing. People not just ship to New Zealand but offer free delivery which can come in handy when you know exactly what you want and there is a low risk of needing to return goods. I think it says something when New Zealand post now offer an overseas shopping service for easier shopping overseas, although generally this is a hyper-expensive way of buying overseas.
The New Zealand Government is of course not happy about this, nor are the powers to be in the UK. We have had to stop sending physical gifts from New Zealand to the UK because people have to pay import duty for anything bought over $15 or gifts valued at over $36. It rather takes the shine of the giving of gifts when the recipient has to deal with UK customs to release their gift from you. Similarly if you order goods over a certain level into New Zealand you will have your parcels impounded until you pay the import duty.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the global economy evolves over the coming years. I can’t help but feel that it will ultimately end up a battle of trade agreements with consumers feeling the tightening of the noose of Government tax regimes because we are easier to penalise than global companies who develop ever more elaborate ways to dodge their taxation responsibilities.