Race for Christmas cash faces handicap
Melbourne Cup day used to be the turning point for Sam Hart and his colleagues at Toyworld.
The race that stopped the nation would signal the start of the Christmas shopping stampede.
But that was years ago now — and things have changed dramatically.
“With online coming in, we’ve taken a massive hit from that,” Mr Hart said. “Not just because of convenience but also because they are able to offer a lower price — obviously not having a lot of the overheads that we have to look at.
“That’s been a massive hit and then gradually, year after year you just see the figures slide.”
Mr Hart started working at Toyworld Whitford City when he was 19.
The Whitford City store has since shut, along with several others. He said he had seen a “huge” amount of change in his 13 years with the Toyworld network.
The festive rush that used to start after the Melbourne Cup, has been reduced to one or two weeks before Christmas Day.
“When I first started working here it was a completely different business,” Mr Hart said.
“Toys were great back then. Really popular.”
Mr Hart said there might be a small measure of relief this year because Toys ‘R’ Us had folded.
But it would be a hollow victory to benefit from another toy company’s demise.
He said local retailers could offer reassurances about the quality of products and a level of service not available online.
“We’re here to help. We know what we’re talking about,” Mr Hart said.
“Come in if you’re looking for gifts. We’re happy to give ideas and that sort of thing.
“We’ll gift wrap for you. Hell, I’ll walk your stuff out the door to your car.”
In his mind, the biggest incentive for families to shop locally was keeping money and jobs in WA.
“Generally the people who own (retail stores), they’re just normal people,” Mr Hart said. “You’re not giving your money to these big companies that are mostly owned overseas.
“You’re helping families survive, pay for their kids to go to school and keep a roof over their head.”